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Thomas Pitt 

From the painting by Kneller at Chevening 





K.C.M.G., C.B., M.A., D.C.L. 

Sometime Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge 

I I 

Cambridge : 

at the University Press 





HPHOMAS PITT, grandfather of the great Earl of 
J. Chatham and owner of the famous Pitt diamond, 
was appointed Governor of Fort St George at a very 
critical time, when the East India Company, after 
carrying on a lucrative trade in India for nearly 
a century, had found themselves in a very dangerous 
position. Some eight years before, during their 
disastrous war with the Mogul, they had been 
deprived of their prosperous factories at Dacca, 
Patna, and Hugli; and the only foothold left to 
them in Bengal on the conclusion of an ignominious 
peace was a settlement newly founded in the face 
of great difficulties and sacrifice of life on a part of 
the present site of Calcutta. At home their Royal 
Charter, which purported to give them the monopoly 
of the Eastern trade, had become practically a dead 
letter by a resolution of the House of Commons, 
which had declared that "all subjects of England 
had an equal right to trade to the East Indies unless 
prohibited by Act of Parliament." 

Whilst Pitt was on his voyage to India to take 
up his appointment, the monopoly of the Eastern 
trade was conferred by Statute on another Company, 
subject to the condition that the Old Company were 
to be allowed to retain such rights as they possessed 


for three years, in order to enable them to wind up 
their affairs. The New Company promptly appointed 
and sent out to India as their representatives Presi- 
dents for the three Presidencies of Bombay, Madras 
and Bengal, who were invested with extraordinary 
powers, and were followed by a squadron of men-of- 
war, escorting an ambassador appointed by the King 
to negotiate a new treaty with the Mogul. They 
arrived some twelve months after Pitt had taken 
over his Governorship : and a bitter struggle ensued 
between them and the officials of the Old Company. 
In Bombay they persuaded the Mogul's Governor 
of Surat to seize and imprison the President and 
chief officers of the Old Company. But in Madras 
and Bengal Pitt steadfastly refused to recognise 
their authority or to have any dealings with them, 
maintaining that the recent Act under which they 
claimed authority, continued the Old Company in 
their possessions and rights for the next three years. 
In the meanwhile the King's ambassador, Sir William 
Norris, who had had no previous Indian experience, 
not only failed to attain his object, which was to ob- 
tain additional concessions for the New Company, but 
by his refusal to accept the conditions offered him, so 
irritated the Mogul that he issued a peremptory edict, 
interdicting all English trade in India, and ordering 
the seizure of the effects of both Companies and the 
imprisonment of all Englishmen throughout his 
dominions. In pursuance of this order, his general, 
Daud Khan, marched with a large army against 
Madras, and demanded the surrender of the town 
and the estates of the Company, threatening that 


unless these demands were complied with, he would 
take the Fort by storm and put its defenders to the 
sword. Full details of the siege that followed are 
contained in the Consultation Books of the Fort, 
which are still in existence. It ended in the with- 
drawal of Daud and his army, and the restoration, 
on payment to him of 25,000 rupees, of all the 
Company's goods that they had raided. His failure 
to reduce the Fort conduced greatly to the restoration 
of the waning prestige of the English throughout 
India ; and during the remainder of his Governorship, 
Pitt continued on more friendly and intimate 
relations with the Mogul and his officers than any 
of his predecessors or successors. His successful 
resistance to the New Company and Daud enabled 
the Old Company to obtain far more advantageous 
terms than they could otherwise have hoped for, 
when the two Companies were subsequently amalga- 
mated. After their amalgamation he retained his 
position as Governor for several years, during which 
he obtained further valuable concessions from the 
Mogul ; completed the fortifications of Madras ; and 
by his able administration and business capacity 
developed the resources and trade of the settlement, 
raising it to a position of prosperity and influence 
which it had never before attained. 

It is only of late years that the great value of 
the work thus done by him has been recognised by 
historians. Appreciative references to it occur from 
time to time in Bruce's Annals of the East India 
Company (1600-1708), published as far back as 1810, 
but they are not of a character likely to attract the 



attention of the general reader. No reference whatever 
is made to him in the very scanty notice of the early 
transactions of the Company given in James Mill's 
History of British India (1818). The earliest pub- 
lished details of several of the more important events 
which occurred during his Governorship appeared 
for the first time in Mr Talboys Wheeler's Madras 
in the Olden Time, compiled from the Official Records 
and Consultation Books of Fort St George and printed 
in Madras in 1861. But until the publication by 
the Hakluyt Society in 1889 of the third volume of 
Hedges' Diary, which contains Documentary Con- 
tributions to a Biography of Thomas Pitt, by Sir Henry 
Yule, President of the Society, little more was gene- 
rally known of Thomas Pitt than that he had been the 
owner of the famous Pitt or Regent diamond, the 
Governor of Fort St George, and the purchaser of 
Old Sarum and other Parliamentary boroughs. In 
1892, the publication by the Historical Manuscripts 
Commission of the Fortescue Manuscripts preserved 
at Dropmore, threw fresh light on many of the 
incidents disclosed by the researches of Wheeler and 
Yule, besides containing new materials of historical 
interest relating to Thomas Pitt and his family. 
These three publications, produced independently of 
one another from different sources, require to be 
carefully examined and read together in order to 
form the basis of any coherent and trustworthy 
representation of the main lines of his career, or 
any fair estimate of his character. Invaluable as 
they are, they by no means exhaust the authorities 
now available for this purpose. Year by year these 


have accumulated: and they have recently been 
supplemented by the publication in the Indian 
Record Series, of Colonel Love's exhaustive work, 
Vestiges of Old Madras, which besides other additional 
information on this subject contains a reproduction 
of the only copy known to be extant of the Prospect 
of Fort St George and Plan of the City of Madras 
Actually Surveyed by Order of the Late Governor 
Tho. Pitt, Esq. A copy of this engraving is re- 
produced in the present work by the permission of 
Bodley's librarian. 

The accumulated contemporary evidence now 
available affords good grounds for a revision of some 
depreciatory estimates of Thomas Pitt's character, 
which have been formed, even by his admirers, on the 
strength of isolated passages in his very voluminous 
correspondence, disclosing as this evidence does 
the circumstances in which the letters containing 
these passages were written. Neither Wheeler nor 
Yule had access to the Dropmore papers: and the 
editor of those papers seems to have had no knowledge 
of Wheeler's or Yule's researches. No similar ex- 
tenuation can be pleaded in the case of the German 
historian, Von Ruville, who in his Life of Chatham 
has taken a very unfavourable view of Pitt's in- 
tegrity, and has alleged that his wealth was "un- 
righteously acquired" ; that he was "corrupt" ; and 
"a miser in the worst sense of the word " ; and that 
his famous diamond "dominated his every thought 
and action " for fifteen years. I have dealt with these 
charges in the concluding chapter of the present 


The portrait of Pitt is reproduced, by permission, 
from Lady Russell's Swallowfield and its Owners ; 
the print of the Pitt diamond in the various stages 
of its cutting, and the facsimile of the letter written 
by Pitt asking for the opinion of Sir Stephen Evans 
as to the advisability of buying it, have both 
appeared in the third volume of Hedges' Diary, 
and are here reproduced with the consent of the 
Hakluyt Society. 

I have also to express my grateful thanks to the 
Rev. A. C. Almack and the Rev. W. H. Cook for the 
courteous welcome, assistance and information given 
by them to me on my visits to Blandford St Mary 
and Stratford under the Castle, for the purpose 
of verifying facts in connection with Thomas Pitt. 

C. N. D. 

May 1915. 



I. THE DORSET PITT FAMILY . . * < v >^ . . i 

II. EARLY DAYS IN INDIA . . . .. ...I ,. . 12 






VIII. FORT ST GEORGE . . . . . . 118 






















A r\ c 

* x -.V 1 V 





















His CHARACTER . . . . 


INDEX . . . . 



PORTRAIT OF THOMAS PITT, from the painting by 

Kneller at Chevening ;.,;-' ,-.-* f-J * > /.-' [. .'> f . Frontispiece 

MAWARDEN COURT . . . . . . . to face p. 72 

THOMAS PITT between pp. 134 and 135 








THE CASTLE :&*;. 574 

CASTLE . . . . . ,, . v . . .. 576 


Bruce's Annals of the East India Company. 

Cobbett's Parliamentary History. 

Cobbett's State Trials. 

Coxe's Life of Walpole. 

Dropmore MSS., vol. I. Historical MSS. Commission. 

Evelyn's Diary. 

Gilbert's Parochial History of Cornwall. 

Oliver Goldsmith's Life of Beau Nash. 

Alexander Hamilton's New Account of the East Indies. 

Hedges' Diary. Edited by Sir Henry Yule. 

Sir William Hunter's History of British India. 

Hutchins' History of Dorset. 

Johnson's Lives of the Poets. 

Journals of the House of Commons. 

Gregory King's Scheme of the Income and Expenses of the several 

families in England for the year 1688. 
Lockyer's Account of the Trade in India, etc. 
Colonel Love's Vestiges of Old Madras. Indian Record Series. 
LuttrelTs Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs. 
Lysons' Magna Britannica. 

Lord Mahon's History of England from the Peace of Utrecht. 
Malleson's History of the French in India. 
Mrs Frank Penny's History of Fort St George. . 
Lord Rosebery's Chatham's Early Life and Connections. 
Lady Russell's Swallowfield and its Owners. 
Von Ruville's Chatham, vol. I. 
Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. 
The Spectator. 

Lord Stanhope's History of England. Reign of Queen Anne. 
The Statute Book. 
Stewart's History of Bengal. 
Streeter's Great Diamonds of the World. 
Swift's Journal to Stella. 

Swift's Memoirs Relating to the Change in the Queen's Ministry. 
Swift's Conduct of the Allies and the Late Ministry in Beginning and 

Carrying on the War. 
Tavernier's Travels in India. 
Tillard's Diary. Historical MSS. Commission. 
The Welbeck MSS. Historical MSS. Commission. 
The Wentworth Papers. Historical MSS. Commission. 
Wheeler's Madras in the Olden Time. 
Wilson's Early Annals of the English in Bengal. 



DEVON has always taken herself and her worthies 
more seriously than her more modest, but no less 
lovable sister Dorset has presumed to do. Devon 
men are not wont to forget men of their county 
who have distinguished themselves in history. But 
it is to be feared that the proportion of the in- 
habitants of Dorset is small who remember, if 
they have ever heard, that the Great Commoner 
and his son, the two most illustrious English states- 
men of the eighteenth century, sprang directly from 
one of the oldest Dorset families. If Thomas Pitt 
had been a Devon and not a Dorset man, the 
chances are that his claims to distinction would 
long ago have received fuller recognition from his 
fellow county men than they are ever likely now 
to do. And yet not only was he the most masterly 
and successful of all the Englishmen who in his 
day and generation were laying the foundations 
of the supremacy of his country in India, but he 
was also the forefather of our two greatest prime 
ministers. Throughout a long and adventurous 
life he laboriously and persistently amassed wealth, 
which he invested in such a manner as to secure 
or his descendants ready access to Parliament 
d political influence. But for its aid, it is unlikely 
at they would ever have emerged from provincial 
obscurity in the conditions of English political life 
which then prevailed. A study of what is known 

D. I 



of him reveals points of resemblance between their 
very remarkable characters and careers and his, 
and enables us to trace the steps that he took 
which paved the way for their phenomenal successes. 
Incidentally it clears up some obscure points in 
the early history of British India, and discloses 
the invaluable services which he rendered at a very 
critical time to his fellow countrymen engaged in 
the Eastern trade. It also presents curious illus- 
trations of some of our old institutions, and the 
social life, manners and habits of thought of the 
times in which he lived, which were very eventful 
ones. For he was born under the Commonwealth 
when the first Dutch war was at its height, and he 
died in the last year of the reign of George the First. 
Few families that have produced great men 
have been more firmly rooted in one county than 
the Pitts were in Dorset towards the close of the 
seventeenth century. As far back as the reign of 
Henry the Eighth, Nicholas Pitt of Blandford and 
Wimborne had a firm footing there. His grand- 
son, John Pitt, became Clerk of the Exchequer 
to Queen Elizabeth. He had married a Blandford 
lady ; and their eldest son became Sir William 
Pitt of Iwerne, Dorset, and Strathfieldsay, Hants ; 
and the bulk of the family property went to him 
and his descendants. One of the younger sons 
of this county magnate was Thomas Pitt of 
Blandford, a physician of repute and the grand- 
father of Governor Pitt. One son of this country 
doctor succeeded to his father's practice ; another 
became Mayor of Dorchester ; and the third Rector 
of Blandford St Mary, where Thomas Pitt, the 
subject of the present work was born on the 5th 
of July 1653. Blandford was therefore the native 
town not only of Governor Pitt but of his father, 
uncle and grandfather. And his ancestors had 



possessed landed property there for at least six 

Blandford takes its name from its being situate 
upon what was in olden days one of the chief fords 
of the River Stour. On one side of the river lies 
the market town of Blandford, still called Blandford 
Forum ; and on the other, Blandford St Mary, 
a pleasant country village. The two are joined by 
a picturesque many arched bridge, which has long 
ago taken the place of the ancient ford. Governor 
Pitt seems to have cherished a great affection for 

e place, which will not surprise those who know 
it and the surrounding country. One of the first 
things he did after rising in the world was to buy 
an estate at Blandford St Mary. It appears from his 
correspondence that whilst Governor of Fort St 
George he contemplated buying another estate in the 
same parish, but being chary of parting with his 
hard earned gains, and informed by his eldest son, 
Robert, who was then at home, that 12,000 was 

ked for it, which was 4000 beyond its value, he 
bandoned the project. " I would willingly/' he says 
a letter dated the 5th of February 1709, "have 

ught Mr Chettel's estate, as being in the parish 
where I was born, and having an estate there, but 
at this time of day to buy land too dear is not 
answerable to common reason and nothing but a 
good bargain can induce a man to meddle with it 1 ." 
After his final return from India however he bought 
this estate as appears from a deed in the Dorchester 
museum, in which it is referred to as having been 
ecently purchased by him. 

The Pitt family in those days was a very large 
one. Governor Pitt's cousins and his uncles and 
his aunts crop up throughout his correspondence 
in bewildering multiplicity, the more so because 

1 Dropmore i. 41. 


so many of them bore the same Christian names. 
George seems to have been the favourite name 
in the elder branch. In the younger there are 
innumerable Roberts, Johns, Williams and Thomases. 
From the family tree it would appear that the 
greater number of these cadets entered one or other 
of the learned professions, the Church, medicine 
or the law. One became a Master in Chancery. 
One, the grandfather of Governor Pitt, as already 
mentioned was a physician at Blandford ; and 
his practice descended to his son and grandson, 
the latter of whom was the father of two Dorset 
clergymen, one of whom was Christopher Pitt, the 
poet, the literary man of the family, whose claim 
to fame now mainly rests on the fact that he is to 
be found in Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Johnson 
tells us that he " was born in 1699 in Blandford, 
the son of a physician much esteemed " ; that " he 
was in 1714 received as a scholar into Winchester 
College, where he was distinguished by exercises 
of uncommon elegance, and at his removal to 
New College in 1719, presented to the electors, 
as the product of his private and voluntary studies, 
a complete version of Lucan's poem, which he did 
not then know to have been translated by Rowe/' 

' This/' says Johnson, "is an instance of early 
diligence which well deserves to be recorded/' 

' When he had resided at his college three years, 
he was presented to the rectory of Pimperne, in 
Dorsetshire by his relation, Mr Pitt of Strathfieldsea 
in Hampshire " (the head of the Pitt family), " and 
resigning his fellowship continued at Oxford two 
years longer, till he became Master of Arts ; he 
then retired to his living, a place very pleasing by 
its situation, and therefore likely to excite the 
imagination of a poet, where he passed the rest 
of his life, reverenced for his virtue and beloved 


for the softness of his temper and the easiness 
of his manners. His general benevolence procured 
general respect ; and he passed a life placid and 
honourable neither too great for the kindness of 
the low nor too low for the notice of the great." 
" He left the world in 1748, and lies buried under 
a stone at Blandford on which is this inscription : 

In Memory of 
Christopher Pitt. M.A. 

very eminent 
for his talents in poetry : 

and yet more 

for the universal candour of 

his mind, and the primitive 

simplicity of his manners. 

He lived innocent, 

and died beloved, 

April 13, 1748, 

Aged 48." 

[is chief poetical work seems to have been a trans- 
lation of the Mneid, which Johnson contrasts with 
that of Dry den, pronouncing them " the two best 
translations that perhaps were ever produced by 
one nation of the same author." " If the two 
versions are compared/' he says, " perhaps the 
result would be that Dryden leads the reader forward 
by his general vigour and sprightliness, and Pitt 
often stops him to contemplate the excellence of 
a single couplet, that Dryden's faults are forgotten 
in the hurry of delight, and that Pitt's beauties 
are neglected in the langour of a cold and listless 
perusal ; that Pitt pleases the criticks, and Dryden 
the people ; that Pitt is quoted and Dryden read." 

It would be difficult to find lives and characters 
more widely dissimilar than those of this blameless 
and scholarly poet, and his cousin the Indian ad- 
venturer. Of the latter it certainly cannot be 

id that his life was a placid one ; or that he was 


"beloved for the softness of his temper/' Such 
" primitive simplicity of manners" as he retained to 
the day of his death seems to have revealed itself 
for the most part in the rude bluntness of his 
painfully plainspoken abuse of the things and persons 
he disapproved of. These uncontrollable explosions 
of wrath and disgust, which occur only too persistently 
throughout his correspondence, and some of which 
would have done no discredit to the most untutored 
peasant of his native county, might possibly have 
been couched in less startling phraseology if, like his 
cousin the poet, he had been educated at Winchester 
and Oxford. But there is no reason to suppose that 
he would ever have been content to devote his 
energies to mastering the mysteries of dead languages 
and turning Latin poetry into English verse. That 
he was fully alive to the advantages of a sound 
business and political education, and even of a 
liberal education for those who had any taste for 
it, is however abundantly clear from the directions 
which he gave for the guidance of his eldest son 
and the bringing up of his other children ; and 
from his willingness in after life to pay for the 
education of the families of his poorer relatives. 

It will be gathered from what has already been 
stated that the immediate ancestors of Governor 
Pitt were a sound stock of well educated country 
gentry, most of whom fortunately for themselves 
had found it necessary to earn their own living, 
in one or other of the learned professions, for the 
most part in their own county, unspoilt by idleness 
or urban luxury. But the members of the family 
were increasing beyond the opportunities of finding 
employment for them at home ; and when Thomas 
Pitt, the second son of the Rector of Blandford 
St Mary was born, the time was coming, when 
some of them must necessarily seek their fortunes 


elsewhere. The Rector had nine children, five of 
whom survived him ; and though passing rich on 
us income of 100 a year from his country living, 
ie cannot have been able to spend much on the 
lucation of any of his children. There is no reason 
to doubt that his son Thomas during the short 
time allowed him for the purpose made the best 
use of such facilities as were available to him of 
picking up some rudimentary education of a kind 
likely to be serviceable to him in after life. He 
certainly learnt how to express himself forcibly 
and unmistakeably in his mother tongue. Spelling 
and grammar in those days were very much matters 
of individual taste with the majority of men and 
women even of good position. In neither does 
he fall below the average of the age. If taken to 
task for his shortcomings in these respects, he 
might well have retorted as Will Honeycombe did 
to the Templar 1 , that he was above such pedantries, 
and that he wrote like a gentleman and not like 
a scholar. He also learnt to pride himself on being 
a Pitt ; and to the end of his life he seems to have 
had a becoming respect for the head of his clan. 
His family were all armigeri, a distinction more 
highly valued in those days by the poorer gentry than 
it is now that armorial bearings are not only taxed, 
but assumed without let or hindrance by anyone 
who cares to use them. That Thomas valued his 
privileges in this respect may be gathered from the 
fact that one of his earliest letters, written whilst 
he was still struggling with adversity in India, is 
stamped with a roughly executed seal, bearing the 
shield of the Dorset Pitts. 

We may fairly assume that at a very early age 
ie recognised the fact that he had to make his own 

1 Spectator 105. 


way in the world ; and that there was very little 
chance of his entering any of the professions which 
had provided a livelihood for his ancestors. He 
could not hope to succeed to his uncle's practice 
as a local physician. That would naturally fall 
in due course to his cousin. It is unlikely that 
he had any desire to enter the Church. He was 
better fitted for the law ; but his father could not 
afford to bring him up to that. In the circumstances 
it is not surprising that he should have chosen 
as his calling the mercantile marine, then as after- 
wards a common resource for disposing at an early 
age of the rough colts of impecunious households. 
This may have been suggested to him or to his parents 
by the propinquity of Blandford to Poole, a very 
flourishing port in those days, to which many a young 
Dorset lad betook himself, when his home became 
too hot to hold him. He was in many ways eminently 
qualified for the sea service. He had throughout 
his life indomitable courage, great industry and 
common sense, readiness of resource, a strong consti- 
tution and a very determined will of his own. We 
shall probably not be tfar wrong in assuming that 
he spared no pains to make himself a good seaman ; 
but nothing is known of the details of his career 
until he went out, probably as a mate or in some 
minor capacity, on board the Lancaster, an East 
Indiaman, under the command of Captain Goodlad 
in 1673. 

His family at Blandford probably considered 
him exceptionally fortunate in obtaining so early 
in life an appointment on board so fine a ship in 
the service of the powerful East India Company, 
the more so as they must have been just then 
in straitened circumstances. For his father had 
died in 1672. It may therefore have been with 
some consternation that they learnt, when his ship 


came back to England, that he had abruptly left 
her and the service of the Company, whilst she 
lay at Balasore in the Bay of Bengal. Knowing 
his ungovernable temper, they may not unreasonably 
have feared that this catastrophe was the result 
of a falling out with his captain or some other 
superior officer. That his employers were disposed 
to treat his desertion as a grave breach of discipline, 
and to make a severe example of him is clear from 
several letters which the Court of the Company 
sent to their chief officer at Hugh. 

In the first of these which is dated the 24th of 
December 1675, they say, "Wee understand that 
Captain Goodlad of the Lancaster left there " (at 
Balasore) " one Pytts, and that he is entertained 
by our Chief there, as also the Carpenter of the 
said ship did Leave the Commander, and Wee are 
informed was prevayled with to do so by our Chief : 
But whether he had a hand in it or not, Wee do 
require you to take Care to send them to the Fort " 
(Fort St George) " to remaine there till next years 
shipping and then to be sent to England 1 / 1 

Instructions from London took a long time to 
reach India in those days, and when received were 
often ignored. It was not until the i8th of 
December in the following year that the Council 
at Balasore seem to have taken any action in the 
matter, as appears from the following entry in the 
diary of Streynsham Master, the Agent of the 
Company, who visited Balasore on his tour of 
inspection of the factories in the Bay. " The 
Councell," he says, " being acquainted that there 
was severall Englishmen not in the Company's 
service in this Towne, some that came trading 
voyages from the Coast, and others that reside 

1 Hedges 3. 2. 


in the Bay, they were all sent for and acquainted 
with the Honble Company's Orders, that all English- 
men not in the Company's service are to reside at i 
Fort St George or Madraspatam. All the English 
being withdrawn, the Councell sent for Thomas i 
Pitts and read the Honble Company's Order to 
send him to England by the first Ships, and required 
his observance thereto, who promised to comply 

Five days after this entry at Balasore in Streyn- 
sham Master's diary, the Court of the Company 
in London, having become impatient at the non- 
arrival of Thomas Pitt in England, wrote again to 
Hugh, to the effect that if he and the carpenter 
of the Lancaster did not come by the next ships, 
they would esteem it a contumacy on the part of 
their officials. 

Again a year afterwards, no Thomas Pitt having 
made his appearance, they sent a further letter 
to the Bay, in which the following passage occurs. 
" And for Thomas Pitt we confirme our former 
order to have him sent home, for goeing out with 
an intent to stay in the Countrey, or running away 
from their ship are courses we cannot approve, 
and will rather at any time send a Seaman from 
home to you than by our Indulgence encourage 
such practices 1 ." 

It is highly improbable that after Streynsham 
Master had left Balasore, Thomas Pitt kept the 
promise exacted from him or surrendered himself 
to the authorities at Fort St George. He certainly 
was not sent back to England in accordance with 
the Company's instructions. What he was doing, 
and why the Chief at Balasore was unwilling to 
dispense with his services, will appear in due course. 

1 Hedges 3. 3. 



His running away from his ship, whether it was, 
as the Court seemed to have believed, premeditated, 
or the result of a quarrel with his superior officers, 
so far from injuring his prospects in life, was the 
beginning of a career which led to far greater successes 
than he could have hoped to attain as captain of 
the finest merchantman that ever sailed the seas. 



IN following the career of young Thomas Pitt 
after he had run away from the Lancaster at Balasore, 
it is necessary to realise the position of the East 
India Company and its officials at that time. They 
had very scanty military forces at their disposal and 
consequently no such power as their successors ac- 
quired in after years of dominating the native rulers. 
They were traders pure and simple in common with 
other European merchants on the outskirts of the 
great Indian continent. 

At certain points along the coast by the sufferance 
of the Great Mogul and his local Nawabs, factories 
for the purposes of trade had been established by 
the Portuguese, English, French, Danes and Dutch. 
In some places, e.g. at Surat and Hugli, more than 
one European nationality had its own factory ; 
and in these cases the competing merchants seem 
to have lived in ordinary tunes more or less har- 
moniously with one another, by reason of the common 
dangers to which they were all exposed. These 
dangers became at times acute. At Surat, for 
example, in 1664 during the Presidency of Sir George 
Oxenden and again in 1670, a Mahratta force under 
Sivaji, who had risen in rebellion against Aurungzeb, 
had attacked the town and pillaged the greater 
part of it, ultimately retiring after doing much 
mischief, leaving the European factories intact, but 
carrying off a round sum in rupees extorted from 


the European merchants, and what loot they had 
been able to obtain from the native inhabitants. 

The salaries of the servants of the East India 
Company were ridiculously low. Exclusive of sub- 
sistence allowances, they ranged from 5 a year 
for an apprentice, 10 a writer, and 15 for a factor 
to 300 a year for a Governor or President. It 
was not of course supposed that these salaries 
by themselves would suffice for the personal expenses 
of the recipients, far less enable them to retire, 
with large fortunes, as so many of them did, after 
a few years' service. To supplement them, the 
Company's officers were allowed to engage on their 
own account in trade with the interior, or by sea 
to other Eastern ports than those in which they 
were stationed. This private trade was supposed 
to be regulated by Committees of the Company. 
But its regulation must have been a matter of 
extreme difficulty, except so far as the exports 
and imports were conveyed from and to England by 
the Company's vessels, in which cases only it was 
possible to check them in London on the ships' 
departure and arrival. In their private trade with 
the interior there was of course a great temptation 
to the Company's servants, as far as their funds 
or credit enabled them to do so, to take the best 
bargains for themselves and the less profitable ones 
for their masters. For the purposes of the sea 
borne private trade, English seamen, who knew 
enough of navigation to take command of vessels, 
manned for the most part by native crews, to Persia, 
or China, or in times of peace with Holland to Batavia, 
were naturally in great request, a fact which must 
have been known to Thomas Pitt, when he stayed 
behind at Balasore. 

Besides their private trade there were other 
more questionable means by which the Company's 


servants enriched themselves when their consciences 
permitted them to do so. One of the simplest 
of these was the taking of toll or commission from 
the native merchants on the sale of the Company's 
goods, and on the purchase of the Indian merchandise 
for sending home. Vincent, for example, the 
Company's chief at Hugli, in whose service Thomas 
Pitt entered after deserting the Lancaster, was 
alleged by the Court of the Company to have been 
unfaithful to them in both of these respects. ' We 
are by too many ways/' they wrote, " assured that 
we have been miserably abused by Vincent in the 
buying of our goods not only in Hugli, But by his 
complices in all other factories in the Bay, both 
by selling our Bullion and buying of our goods." 
" During the time of his chief ship he hath appro- 
priated to his use under pretence of Dustury, or 
allowance for brokage, or otherwise for keeping the 
accounts two and a half per cent, which hath been 
paid to him by the buyers of all our silver and pieces 
of eight, over and above the severall prices, which 
he hath brought into account in our books, which 
amounts to a great some of money. He hath openly 
and publiquely at Hugly owned this Cheat of Dustury, 
saying that it was his due." On another occasion they 
refer to " his abominable sinful forcing of his own 
tutinack 1 Long Pepper and copper, in lieu of the 
Company's ready money, while the Company's goods 
lye unsold in their Warehouses." 

Vincent's case was by no means a solitary one. 
Some 2 years earlier Sir William Langhorne, the 
Governor of Fort St George, had been recalled 
because the Court believed as the result of an in- 
vestigation that he had received annually 20,000 

1 " Tutinack " or "Tutinaghe " is a term applied to two metals 
(i) a Chinese alloy, sometimes called "white copper," and (2) zinc. 


pagodas from the Company's chief customer, Casa 
Verona, in consideration of undue advantages alleged 
to have been afforded to the latter in reference 
to the Company's trade. There can be little doubt 
from the cases recorded in Hedges' Diary that similar 
malpractices on the part of the Company's servants 
were not infrequent ; and the low salaries paid 
by the Company must have been a direct incentive 
to indulge in them. 

Another fertile but illicit source of gain of which 
most of the Company's officials availed themselves 
arose out of their dealings with interlopers, that 
is to say, such of their own countrymen as came out 
to the East with the deliberate intention of infringing 
the monopoly which the Company claimed under 
their Charters. 

The Company had been originally constituted 
by a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth, 
which had been continued by subsequent Charters, 
the last of which had been granted by Charles the 
Second in 1661. None of these Charters had been 
confirmed by Parliament. They purported to give 
the Company the privilege of trading to the East 
Indies to the exclusion of all other subjects of the 
English King. In the early days of the Company 
when their trade was small and hazardous, this 
exclusive privilege was not seriously challenged. 
But after the Restoration and particularly after 
the repeal in 1663 of the Statute prohibiting the 
exportation of bullion and foreign coin, the Eastern 
trade had greatly increased in volume and profits. 
Owing to the fact that the value of the precious 
metals was much higher in the East than in Europe 1 , 
there was scarcely any commodity which it was 
more profitable to carry from Europe to India than 
Iver. And silver had become far more abundant 

1 Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations Book I. Chapter xi. 


in Europe of late years owing to its increasing 
importation from the American mines to Cadiz 
and Lisbon. The most important article of the 
export trade from Europe to the East was therefore 
bullion, which the Company were at this time 
allowed to export in unlimited quantities. The 
other exports of the Company seem to have consisted 
mainly of lead, quicksilver, hardware, woollen cloths, 
looking glasses, liquors and wines ; but the aggregate 
value of these seldom exceeded one fourth of the 
bullion and pieces of eight exported. The principal 
articles brought back to Europe from the East 
were calicoes and other woven manufactures, raw 
silks, diamonds and other precious stones, tea, 
porcelain, pepper, drugs and saltpetre, which was 
greatly in demand in Europe for the manufacture 
of gunpowder. The demand for all these had increased 
in Europe greatly of late years. The Company's 
business had therefore become an exceedingly profit- 
able one, with the inevitable result that other English 
traders had become very desirous of taking part in it. 
The public feeling in England against monopolies 
granted by the Crown had been growing steadily for 
generations ; and, as none of the Company's Charters 
had been confirmed by Parliament, grave doubts 
had consequently for some time been entertained, 
whether the Company's monopoly of trade to the 
East Indies could be maintained in the English courts, 
and whether any method of legal procedure could 
safely be relied upon in England against merchants, 
who infringed it. For years the interlopers had 
been increasing in numbers and audacity ; and 
hitherto the Company had not ventured to take any 
action against them in the English courts. They 
had thought that the safer course was to instruct 
their servants in India to put down interloping 
with a strong hand without regard to any questions 


of legality. Sir Josiah Child, the Governor of the 
Company, on being informed by one of his officials 
that he would do his best in this direction, so far 
as the laws of England allowed him, wrote back 
angrily " that he expected his orders should be 
observed and obeyed as statutes, and that they were 
to be his (the officer's) rule and not the laws of 
England, which were a heap of nonsense compiled 
by a few ignorant country gentlemen, who hardly 
knew how to make laws for the guidance of their 
own private families much less for the regulating 
of companies and foreign commerce." But there 
were many reasons why the Company's servants 
objected to comply with these outrageous directions. 
Apart from other considerations they did not care 
to run the risk of being called to account by the 
English Parliament for any outrage they might 
commit on their fellow countrymen in India, as 
in later years was done with some of the employes of 
the Company at St Helena ; and as a matter of fact 
in some of their stations the numbers of their em- 
ployes were far too small to enable them to cope 
with the crews of the interloping ships. For the 
interlopers naturally betook themselves by preference 
to the outlying factories, where their dealings with 
the native merchants and the Company's servants 
were less likely to come under the observation 
of the Company than in the larger settlements. 
It was no doubt the duty of the Company's men 
even in these small stations to discountenance the 
interlopers. But their suppression could only be 
effected by force, which seems very rarely to have 
been resorted to. It would have been strange if 
it had been. The Company's officials in India 
might well salve their consciences by the reflection 
that if force might legally be employed for the purpose 
of stopping interloping, the right place in which 



to employ it was London, where the courts of law 
could be appealed to by the Company to restrain 
any interloping ships from leaving an English 
port, and where the offending crews might be 
arrested on their return home and dealt with by 
duly constituted authorities. The suggestion that 
the difficulty should be met by the scandal of a civil 
war at the other end of the world must have seemed 
to them monstrous ; particularly having regard to 
their limited numbers and the fact that they had 
themselves personally no reason to find fault with 
the interlopers, who so far from injuring were willing 
to assist them in every way in their private trade 
and the carrying from and to England of news and 
letters and such merchandise as the Company might 
be unwilling to pass on board their own ships. In 
these and other ways the interlopers were very 
serviceable ; and the occasional advent of one or 
more of their ships at such a place as Balasore, for 
example, must have been very welcome both to 
the Europeans and the natives. In fact, although 
the aiding or abetting of interlopers, or the holding 
of any friendly intercourse whatever with them 
was regarded by the Court at home as the most 
heinous and unpardonable sin that any of their 
servants could commit, and was never referred 
to in their letters except in terms of the utmost 
horror and detestation, it was an offence from which 
scarcely one of their officers was wholly free, and in 
which a considerable proportion of them habitually 
indulged with great comfort and pecuniary advantage 
to themselves. 

Such was the condition of things in India 
which young Thomas Pitt found confronting him 
when he left his ship at Balasore. It afforded by 
no means an unpromising outlook for an enterprising 
and energetic young seaman. But it had its 


drawbacks. He had no capital of his own to trade 
with, and for the next four years, which were probably 
the most strenuous and exacting of his life, he was 
at the mercy of his employers, the most important 
of whom were Matthias Vincent of Hugli, the chief 
officer of the Company in the Bay of Bengal, and 
Richard Edwards, the chief of the factory at Bala- 
sore, a connexion of Vincent's. If he had displeased 
either of these men, he might at any moment have 
been sent back summarily a prisoner to London 
in accordance with the directions of the Company. 
It was indeed their duty to send him back however 
well he might behave to them, for the Company 
had informed them that they, should regard his 
remaining in India as a contumacy on their part. 
It was absolutely essential for him therefore to keep 
on the best possible terms with them and serve 
them faithfully to the utmost of his ability in what- 
ever capacity they might employ him, on whatever 
pay they might be willing to give, and however 
exacting their requirements might be. Both of 
these men used him in their private trade on voyages 
to Persia. But at the end of four years' drudgery, 
his finances were still at a low ebb. He had then 
bought some Arab horses, a somewhat risky invest- 
ment, and was in debt to Vincent. On the 2ist 
of February 1678, the latter wrote to Edwards 

S'essing that the horses might be sent to him at 
ugli in order that they might go up country to 
Dacca for sale. A month afterwards he wrote 
again, asking what Pitt had sold his horses for 
" I heare/' he said, " that he has agreed to goe 
to Persia upon Naroola Cawn's ship. Pray when 
he comes thence hitherward let somebody come 
with him that may give me timely notice, if he 
calls not in here, he being between 4000 and 5000 
rupees in my debt on all accompts to this day. 

2 2 


Pray take what care you can that he escapes me 

The following letter 1 , the earliest of Thomas 
Pitt's that is extant, shows how keenly he felt his 
position when the contents of Vincent's letter were 
disclosed to him by Edwards ; how anxious he was 
that his horses should not be sent to Dacca for 
sale; and how he had good reason to fear that 
after all his efforts for years to please Vincent, the 
latter was by no means well disposed towards him. 

" To the Worshipfull Matthias Vincent, Chiefe for the Affaires 
of the honourable Company in Bengali and Orixa in Hugly. 

Ballasore, May the nth, 1678. 
Worshipful S r : 

Mr Edwards shewed me the clause you writt in your last 
letter to him which was about the horses. S r : I am certaine 
you are sensible what a losse I have and am like to sustaine 
by them with what I lost in your ship and what Mr Bugden 
gave away of mine as hee said itt was for the companys interest 
and allsoe my being putt by (as I was) my imploy which was 
promised mee, and I depended on itt, not only that butt other 
inconveniences attended itt, certainely noe one can think butt 
that this must bee a vast losse to a young beginner as I am. 
S r : as for sending the horses to Dacca I am certaine that it will 
not be for my interest, the Nabob will either take them as a 
piscash or stop them there till hee brings them to his prices, 
or this weather and the raines will kill them goeing up, or bring 
them soe low in case, they will not get itt up in a yeares time. 
Butt what you write ' you will secure your Selfe and the Companys 
Interest/ S r : you may doe as you please, butt I hope you will 
excuse mee first, being soe much interested in them, and payd 
soe deare for them. S r : at your goeing hence you were pleased 
to promise mee to assist mee in the disposeing of them which 
I hope you will be pleased to doe. S r : I have beene formerly 
advised and since have perceived it that you are much my 
enemy, butt for what I know nott. I neuer as I can remember 
disoblidged you in any thing, but allwayes endeavoured as much 

1 Hedges 3, 3. 


as possible to the contrary. This of your Antipathy I supposd 
was caused first by a Jenerall of Mr Rolt to you brought by 
mee my first Voyage from Persia, as to your money being left 
behind surely you cannot impute that to any fault of mine, 
but I suppose that was the onely reason you were soe unwilling 
that I should proceed on the ship a Second Voyage, or because 
that Mr Clavell consigned your Concern to mee, which I wish 
had beene otherwise, rather than have reaped your displeasure 
by it, butt of late I know there hath beene two persons as have 
endeavoured (and as it seems effectually) to incense you against 
mee but I value them nott, but had I beene as forward to have 
declared what I knew to bee truth of them, as they have 
beene in telling things to you of mee that have beene false, 
happily by this time I might have had my revenge of them, 
and paid them in thiere owne Coyne, but I hope itt is not yett 
too late, and I will assure them there shall be nothing wanting 
in mee to complete itt. 

S r : I have sent the Coppy of my accompt with Mr Bugden 
to Mr Reade to ajust with him. I was unwilling to trouble 
you, supposing that you are very busy and knowing not how 
you might take itt, but I hope S r : you will be pleased to make 
him give an accompt of the cash hee received of mee, I paying 
it by your order. 

S r : I humbly beg your pardon for the freedom I take herein, 
which I thought better soe then doe as some endeavour to, 
hang men behind their backs, butt speake fair to theire faces, 
which are like Wolves in Sheepes Clothing, whose ends I hope 
will be irrecoverable miserable. I doubt not but in time you 
will finde them out. Heartily wishing you may 

I Remaine Worshipfull S r : 

Your most oblidged and most humble servant. 

Tho: Pitt." 

Irksome and trying as these years of bondage 
must have been to young Thomas Pitt, the close 
insight which they gave him into the details of 
the Eastern trade, and the characters and practices of 
the native races with whom they brought him into 
contact, was invaluable to him in after life. In 
the meanwhile they secured for him the favour 
of Vincent. Before the close of the year 1679, 
his prospects had materially improved by his marriage 


with Jane Innes, a niece of Vincent and also of 
Edwards. Writing to Edwards on the 24th of 
October I679 1 , he addresses him as " uncle' 1 and 
asks him to dispose of his share in a ship called 
the Speedwell. It seems from this letter that he was 
then thinking of returning home at once. But a 
week afterwards on the soth of the same month 
in a further letter to Edwards he says, " Since 
my last to you Mr Vincent and I have discoursed 
about a Persia Voyage/' " The news is here that 
I have and shall I hope subdue all my enemies/' 
Possibly Vincent had objected at first to his niece's 
marriage ; but had by this time come round. How- 
ever this may be, the marriage was a most opportune 
one for Pitt, for from this time forward he enjoyed 
the fullest confidence of Vincent a confidence 
which, as events proved, was not misplaced and 
he never afterwards seems to have been short of 
money or credit " good working tools " to use an 
expression in a letter which he wrote when Governor 
of Fort St George to the father of a young man, 
who had recently married there, and was a young 
beginner as he himself had been 2 . " To contribute 
to their happiness, '* he wrote on that occasion, " I 
should advise you to send him out a couple of 
thousand pounds, or whatever you can conveniently 
give him to enable him to trade, for a man's youth's 
the only time to drudge in business, and that which 
would chiefly contribute to making it a pleasure 
is to have good working tools, and that generally 
begets good success." For the future Pitt seems 
always to have had these good working tools ; 
and they undoubtedly in his case begot good success. 
That he went on the voyage to Persia on which 
Vincent had discoursed with him in October 1679 

1 Hedges 3. 173. * Hedges 3. 108. 


jms clear, as he is reported to the Court in a 
letter from the Surat Council to have been in the 
following year with a " Cargo of Sugars from Bengali" 
at Muscat, where he fell in with the interloper 
William Alley, whom he encouraged to go to the 
Coromandel Coast and the Bay, at the latter of 
which destinations he would no doubt be serviceable 
to Vincent. The next year (1681) he came back 
to England with his wife and infant son on another 
interloping ship, the William and John, carrying 
a well selected cargo, no inconsiderable portion 
of which belonged to himself and Vincent, whose 
relations with the Company had now become strained 
beyond endurance and who had every reason to 
set about promptly to get as much of his gains 
home as he conveniently could. It is not unlikely 
that before they left Balasore, Pitt and his wife 
had concerted with him their plan of operations, 
the execution of which will be narrated in the next 

The following extract 1 from a letter of the Court 
to Hugh, relating to this ship, makes it clear that 
whatever Pitt and Vincent had expended on its 
cargo, brought them in a profitable return. 

'With this," they say, "We send the Printed 
Cargo of the Interloper William and John, and 
intend to send the Print of her sale, if wee can 
procure it, to the intent that you may see what 
kind of new goods she brought, and how they sould 
here, for your government in providing for us, 
such as you find turned to best account. 

" Upon this occasion wee must tell you that 
the Interlopers have in nothing juster cause to 
boast than this, that notwithstanding our Councils 
are constantly resident upon the place, and have 

1 Hedges 3. 14. 


alwaies our orders and money beforehand, and 
time to Provide new and fine sorts of goods, and 
they come to the Bay but for a short time and as 
it were by stealth, and yet they bring home more 
in proportion of those new desireable goods by far 
then our ships, which is such an unanswerable 
reproach to those that mannagd our affairs formerly 
that wee hope you will remove it from your doors." 



As has been seen, Thomas Pitt left England 
lor India in 1673 a rough sailor lad of twenty years 
of age, possessed probably of no more worldly goods 
than his kit and a very limited supply of pocket 
money. He returned in the autumn of 1681, a 
prosperous young merchant of twenty-eight, with 
a wife and infant son, who in due course became 
the father of the great Earl of Chatham. Fortunes 
were made rapidly in India in those days ; and the 
lucky persons who made them usually elected to 
stay at home to live on them at their ease for the 
remainder of their lives. But Thomas Pitt had 
not yet made his pile ; and he had pressing work 
before him on behalf of his wife's uncle Vincent, 
which had to be taken in hand at once, if that worthy 
was to be saved from impending disaster. This 
work, if done promptly and well, would bring grist 
to young Pitt's mill and ensure for him the future 
confidence of Vincent. It was so urgent that he 
can have had but little time to spare for visits to 
his family in Dorset, where his eldest sister Sarah 
was now married to the Rev. Henry Willis, who 
had succeeded her father as Rector of Blandford 
St Mary, having been presented to the living by 
the trustees of the will of the late Rector in whom 
the advowson was vested. But no doubt during 
the few months that her brother remained in England 
on this occasion he heard from her and others of his 


family, and they from him ; and it is not unlikely 
that they saw something of one another, either 
in London or at Blandford. Most of his time and 
thought however must have been devoted to the 
task of chartering and preparing for sea the ship, 
with which it had been decided that he should go 
out to India for the purpose of fetching his patron 
and employer home with so much of his property 
as still remained there, and arranging for concerted 
action with the other interloping ships that might 
be going out that year. It was already high time 
that he should start. For the good fortune of 
the William and John, which had brought him 
home with his wife and son, seems to have been 
the last straw that broke the back of the patience 
of the long suffering East India Company, coupled 
as it was with the suspicion, which must have 
practically amounted to a certainty, that Vincent 
had had a hand in that business. 

For some time past the Company had been alive 
to the necessity for a radical change in the administra- 
tion of their affairs in Bengal 1 , where their factories 
were too far distant from head quarters at Fort 
St George to be effectually supervised by the Governor 
and Council of the Fort. They now determined 
to remedy this defect by constituting a new Agency 
at Hugli, separate and distinct from that at the 
Fort, and making its chief the governor and super- 
intendent of their affairs in Bengal with special 
powers to regulate their subordinate factories in 
that part of India. For this purpose they had 
chosen Mr William Hedges, a man whom from 
their personal knowledge of his character and 
antecedents they believed that they could trust, 
so far as they ever trusted any of their servants. 

1 Bruce 2. 466-468. 


He was one of their Committees, as the Directors 
of the Company were then called, and had family 
connexions on their Court, the most important 
of whom was Sir Jeremy Sambrooke, whose wife 
was Mrs Hedges' sister ; and he was, as they knew, 
as keen as they were themselves to put down inter- 
loping once for all. The same may probably be 
said of his colleague, Mr John Beard, the keeper 
of the Company's Surat warehouse in London, 
whom they sent out with him as second in the 
Council at Hugli, and third in the Council of the 
Bay, and who was nominated as his successor in 
the event of Hedges' death on the voyage, or 
within six months afterwards. Neither of the two 
men appears to have had any previous personal 
experience of India. With them went Mr John 
Richards, who was to supersede Edwards, Pitt's 
other wicked uncle, as chief of the factory at Bala- 
sore. It is clear from the peremptory instructions 
given to Hedges and his colleagues on this occasion 
that the Court fully realised the importance of 
promptly arresting Vincent and seizing his papers, 
before he had any intimation of their intentions 
concerning him. For the first of these instructions 
ran as follows 1 . ' In the first place wee do require 
you with all possible speed immediately upon our 
Agent's arrival in the Bay to seize upon the person 
of Mr Matthew Vincent, our late Chief in the Bay, 
and send him forthwith a prisoner on board the 
ship Defence, Captain Heath, Commander, where 
lett him remain under safeguard in Charge of the 
Cap", having all convenient accommodation, but 
no permission to return on shore in India, on any 
pretence or cause whatsoever, until he be landed 
in England, to the End he may be brought hither 

1 Hedges 2. 15. 


within the reach of his Majesties laws and according 
to his Majesties Charter, to answer to the severall 
breaches of trust and other notorious abuses com- 
mitted by him/' 

This instruction was followed by others directing 
that Vincent's papers, books and effects should 
be seized and a strict inquiry instituted into " all 
the abuses frauds and injuries that have been done 
by him or any other of the factors to the Company, 
and particularly touching of 2\ per cent, on the 
Company's bullion or in the price of goods bought 
or sold for them " : and "if it should appear that 
he or any other person had diverted any of the 
Company's estate to their own use or made use of 
the Company's monies or effects to buy goods in 
their own or other men's names, or that they had 
taken dustoorie on goods bought or sold for the 
Company," then every endeavour was to be made 
" to secure such estate of the Company's, however 
concealed or disguised under other men's names." 

Another of the instructions given by the Court 
on this occasion was the following. "And for all 
English in or out of our service, which you shall 
in any way discover to have any privity, corre- 
spondence or intelligence with any of the late 
Interlopers, we would have you send them home ; 
let not one of these treacherous persons stay in 
our service, nor remain in India." 

In giving this last order, the Company can hardly 
have realised the extent to which the staff in their 
factories would have been depleted, had it been 
literally carried into execution. But that they 
fully understood that some force would be necessary 
to enable Hedges and Beard to arrest Vincent, 
is clear from the fact that they sent with them 
from England " a corporall and some soldiers to 
be a guard and assistance to them " ; and they 



also directed the Council at Fort St George to send 
them further soldiers for the same purpose. 

Armed with these instructions, Hedges 1 after 
receiving his commission from Sir Josiah Child, the 
Governor and Thomas Papillon, the Deputy Governor 
of the Company, left London on the 3oth of November 
1 68 1 for Deal, where he arrived on the 2nd of Decem- 
ber and went on board his ship the Defence the 
following day. 

In the meanwhile Thomas Pitt had been left 
behind in London, where the Company had com- 
menced a suit in Chancery against him and one 
of his accomplices, who had come home with him 
in the William and John, and on the I5th of 
February 1682 the Court 2 directed their attorney, 
Mr Moses, to procure against Pitt a writ of ne exeat 
regnum, as it was called in the ungrammatical law 
Latin of the day, until this suit should be heard 
and determined. On the same day however they 
seem to have discovered that they were too late, 
and that Pitt had already given them the slip by 
starting for India in one of the interloping ships 
he had been preparing. For in their letter to 
Bengal of that date they say, " We are informed 
that Mr Pitts is gone for India in the ship ' Crowne/ 
and we believe will come up Hughly River directly, 
in hope to get his passage thither before our Agent 
Hedges (which we hope the Almighty will prevent). 
If he should appear within your Agency, we would 
have you secure his person, whatever it cost to 
the Government or other natives (sic), all which 
we recommend to the prudent management and 
good husbandry of our Agent and Council. When 
you have got him into your custody, be sure to 
secure him, he being a desperate fellow and one 

1 Hedges i. 15. 2 Hedges 3. 10. 


that we fear will not stick at doing any mischief 
that lies in his power 1 /' Two days afterwards 
they wrote to the captain of one of their own ships 
the Welfare, urging him " to make all imaginable 
haste " to get before Pitt into the Bay ; and after 
proceeding in company with four other of their 
ships till they were out of danger from the Algerine 
Pirates, " to ply your voyage all that possibly you 
can, and to sail directly for the Bay up the River 
Ganges, as near to Hughly as you can, without 
staying at Ballasore for the Agent and Council's 
orders, but only to take on pilots, so that you may 
answer our greate designe in preventing the pre- 
judice that may be done us by that ship " (the 
Crown) " or any other Interloper designed for that 

On the loth of March they wrote a further letter 
to the Governor and Council at Fort St George, in 
which they say, "We hear that there will be two 
Interlopers this year in the Bay, viz. the f Crowne/ 
Captain Dorrell, and ' (blank)/ Thomas Pitts being 
designed supercargo of both, who is Mr Vincent's 
cousin, and a fellow of a haughty, huffying, daring 
temper, and therefore by the first ship that goes down 
to the Bay, we would have you send downe to Agent 
Hedges, a Corporall and 20 soldiers to be at his 
disposall there, so long as our ship stay, or he shall 
think fit to keep them there to prevent Interlopers. 
We think it may not be amiss to have them there 
to prevent any insolent attempt of Pitts to rescue 
Vincent, because Pitts being so well acquainted on 
the River Ganges, may carry up both the ships 
aforesaid as high as Hughly, whereas we have no 
ship small enough to go up, but onely the ' Welfare ' 
that is less than either of the others."" 

1 Hedges 3. 10, IT. 


Pitt left London in the Crown somewhere about 
the middle of February. Hedges, as has been seen, 
had a good start of him, having gone on board the 
Defence in the Downs on the 2nd of December. 
Here however the Defence waited till the igth of 
December, for her consort, the Resolution, and what 
was worse, the two ships were then detained in the 
Downs by adverse winds till the 28th of January. 
Then they went quickly down the Channel with 
a favouring breeze. On the 2nd of February a 
mishap befel them in the death of the unfortunate 
man who had been selected to supersede Edwards 
at Balasore 1 . The following is the official notification 
of the circumstances attending his decease sent to 
the Company by Hedges and Beard. " On the 2nd 
instant it pleased God to take to himself Mr John 
Richards, occasioned by a slip of his foot in his 
cabbin 3 nights before, which we apprehend (by ye 
great effusion of blood out of his mouth & nose 
before he died) broke something within him. God 
prepare us all for ye like change/' 

It may here be remarked that although Hedges 
and Beard were both religious men, their religion, 
so far from being a bond of union between them, 
was according to Hedges, one of the causes of their 
mutual dislike. On one occasion in the following 
year Hedges in his Diary reports 2 : " Mr Beard took 
occasion to affront and abuse me in a most rude 
and unhandsome manner, growing pale with passion, 
shooke his head and made such a filthy noise with his 
mouth as cannot be expressed. This prejudice con- 
ceived against me, I judge upon account of opinion 
in Religion, he being a most rigid Presbyterian, is 
so great that no public business can be freely and 
calmly argued in Consultation, without ending in a 
quarrel/' " Tis observable/' he writes in another 

1 Hedges i. 16. 2 Hedges i. 149. 


place 1 , "by ye way that Mr Beard confesses here 
before the President in Council in a boasting way 
that he ordered Mr Braddyl to tell a notorious lye 
whereas he always pretends to be more righteous 
than any other person, and that he would no 
willingly commit ye least sinne for ye greatest gooc 
in the World." 

A voyage to India in those days on board a slow 
sailing East Indiaman must have been a very 
wearisome business, even with congenial companion 
ship. From the above and other passages in Hedges 
Diary, it is unlikely that either of the two men 
derived much solace from the other's society at any 
time. But Hedges' log of the voyage is not en 
livened by any record of the unpleasantnesses that 
may have arisen between them at this stage of their 
acquaintance. It consists mainly of a record of the 
number of miles run by the Defence each day, the 
weather and the ship's course. On the i7th o: 
April, however, the following startling entry occurs 
in it 2 . 

" This morning we saw a sail about 4 leagues to leeward o 
us ; about 5 in ye afternoon we spake with her. She proved to 
be the Crowne, Capt. Dorrel, Comr., an interloper. She wantec 
(i.e. was rather less than) two months from England. Came not 
through ye Downes, but went on the Backside of ye Goodwin 
Sands. They told us plainly they were bound for Hughley 
Mr Pitts and two or three passengers more were aboard of her 
After saluting each other, we all made ye best of our way, bu 
she sailing best was almost out of sight next morning." 

The Defence did not reach Balasore Roads till the 
i Qth of July. On his arrival 3 Hedges found three 
interloping ships there, and was informed by the 
captains of the two Company's ships which were 
waiting to take him and Beard up to Hugli, that the 

1 Hedges i. 170. Hedges i. 20. 8 Hedges i. 31. 


ship he saw in port was the Crown ; that she had 
been there for eleven days ; that Pitt had hired 
a great house at Balasore, carried divers chests of 
money ashore, and was very busy in buying of goods ; 
that the other two small ships (interlopers) which 
were in sight over and against Piply were English 
vessels, arrived but three days before the Defence] and 
that they all wanted pilots to carry them up the river 
to Hugli. 

Fuller details of Pitt's proceedings on his arrival 
at Balasore are contained in a letter addressed to 
the Court of the Company by the Council of the Bay 1 
in which it is stated that he had entered Balasore 
in a hostile manner with guards and trumpets, and 
had spread the report that the Company " were in 
so low a condition that they could send forth 
but 2 shipps to fetch off their remaines with not 
20 chests of treasure and that there was a new 
Company erected, and hee the said Pitts was their 

On the 2 ist of July 2 Hedges and Beard with their 
families and belongings and nine soldiers left the 
Defence at Balasore and started for Hugli on board 
of their two sloops. On the 23rd Hedges with his 
party but without the soldiers, which had been left 
behind in Beard's sloop, had got up the river as far 
as a village, called Great Tanna, from which place 
he despatched a letter, reporting his appointment by 
the Company as Agent and giving directions for 
the immediate despatch of boats to carry him and 
his retinue up to Hugli. These directions were 
promptly complied with, and on the following 
morning he was met near the Dutch Garden, some 
miles below the Company's factory at Hugli, by 
Vincent " who came 3 ," Hedges tells us in his Diary, 
" attended by several boats and budgerows, guarded 

1 Hedges 3. n. 2 Hedges i. 31. 3 Hedges i. 33. 

D. * 


by 35 Firelocks, and about 50 Rashpoots and Peons 
well armed/' " He invited me/' Hedges continues, 
" to go ashoar with him to the Dutch Garden, where 
he had provided an entertainment for me, and made 
preparations for my reception. I went along with 
him, and stayed till evening, expecting Mr Beard's 
arrivall in the other sloop, who not coming in time, 
we went together to the Factory and then parted 

It would be difficult to imagine a more unpleasant 
and humiliating position than that in which Hedges 
now found himself. He had been ordered by the Com- 
pany to arrest Vincent, immediately on his arrival at 
Hugh; to send him a prisoner on board the Defence ; 
to seize his papers, books and effects ; and to institute 
a rigorous examination into the frauds and abuses 
of which he was believed to be guilty. This was now 
out of the question ; for Vincent had betaken 
himself with his papers and effects to the Dutch 
quarters at Hugli, where he was protected by a guard 
of soldiers in his pay far too strong for Hedges to 
cope with, even if the Dutch had allowed him to 
make the attempt. That Vincent had been warned 
by Pitt of the designs of his enemies against him 
is clear from the letter of the Council of the Bay to 
the Company above referred to, in which it is stated 
that " as soone as he " (Pitt) " came to the Company's 
late Agent Vincent, Vincent removes to the Dutch 
Quarter and levies an armed guard of Portuguez 
firelocks, Rashbootes and Peones." Nor was this 
all. The Mogul's uncle and Viceroy, Shaista Khan 
(who is always spoken of in Hedges' Diary as the 
Nabob of Dacca), had for some time past been de- 
manding the payment of customs duties on all 
goods and treasure imported by the Company in 
those parts ; and all trade with the Company had 
been interdicted, pending their payment. As the 


Company's goods had been expressly exempted from 
any such duties by a firman of the late Mogul, Shah 
Jehan, in the year 1656, confirmed by Shaista Khan 
himself for valuable consideration in 1672, the 
Company's servants were not unnaturally very 
unwilling to pay them ; and on Hedges' arrival 
the differences between the native tax collectors 
and the English had reached a very critical stage. 
In justice to the native officials it cannot be said 
that the Company's case for exemption was a very 
strong one. The firman of 1656 had unquestionably 
been superseded by a later firman of the present 
Mogul Aurungzeb, which had imposed a duty of 
3 1 per cent, on all the Company's goods imported 
into his dominions ; and however unfair it might 
seem on the Mogul's part to impose such a duty 
in view of what had been done by his predecessor, 
his tax collectors had no option but to insist on its 
payment. The ground on which their right to do 
so was disputed by the Company's officials was that 
this later firman seemed to them to apply only to 
English goods brought into India at Surat 1 . As Sir 
Henry Yule has pointed out, the firman being in the 
Persian language was written without stops : and 
its English translator, who appears to have been an 
Armenian, by the ingenious insertion of a full stop 
in the middle of it 2 , had enabled an interpretation 
to be placed upon it, which gave some slight colour 
to the contention of the English merchants. There 
seems little doubt that the contention was an un- 
tenable one 2 ; for no good reason could be alleged 

1 Hedges i. 99, 100. 

2 The firman was addressed to the English rulers at Surat. It 
ordered certain customs duties to be paid at Surat for the future 
and at all other places upon this account it directed that no one 
was to be molested for further customs duties. The Armenian 
translator inserted his full stop after the word " future " instead 
of in its proper place after the words "other places." Wilson i. 78. 



why, if goods imported from England on the Western 
Coast of India were made liable to duty, those 
imported on the Eastern Coast should be duty 
free. The collectors finding their attempts to collect 
the duties stubbornly resisted, on a plea which must 
have seemed to them a bare-faced trick, had no 
alternative but to refuse to allow the Company's 
trade to proceed until the duties were paid. " Under 
all these troubles," to quote again from the last 
mentioned letter from the Council of the Bay " Pitt 
comes with three ships " (those Hedges had seen 
at Ballasore) " to Hughley and lands in great state, 
with 4 or 5 files of soldiers in red coats, well armed, 
and great attendance of Native Soldiers and Trum- 
peters, and takes up his quarters with the Dutch 
by the name of the New Company's Agent, be- 
spattering the old Company. He treats with the 
Governor as Agent, obtains a Perwanna order, undei 
the title of the New English Company, to trade, 
and also liberty to build a factory to continue for 
ever, and defames the Company's servants. Vincent 
joining him builds warehouses, the Dutch everywhere 
assisting them and the Company's black merchanl 
by Vincent's influence." 

There is a hiatus in Hedges' Diary from the 
24th of July 1682, when he records his meeting with 
Vincent to the gth of October. On that day he 
resumes 1 : ' The sever all affronts insolences and 
abuses dayly put upon us by Boolchund, our chief 
customer (causing a generall stoppage of our trade) 
being grown insufferable, ye Agent and Council foi 
the Honble East India Compy's affaires at Hughlj 
resolved upon and made use of divers expedients 
for redress of their grievances : but all means provinj 
ineffectual 'twas agreed and concluded in consultatioi 
that the only expedient now left was for the Agent t< 

1 Hedges i. 33. 


go himself in person to the Nabob and Duan at Decca 
as well to make some settled adjustment concerning 
ye Customs as to endeavour the preventing Inter- 
lopers trading in these parts for ye future : in order 
to which preparations were ordered to be made/' 

A more unpromising pilgrimage could hardly have 
been undertaken. Boolchund and the chief Collector 
of Customs at Hugli, Paramecvaz Das, referred to 
by Hedges in his Diary as " Permesuradas/' were 
old cronies of Vincent and the interlopers, with 
whom for reasons of their own they seem to have 
acted more or less in concert throughout this business. 
They had nothing to gain and much to lose by stopping 
the trade of the interlopers, who paid their customs 
duties freely and were in far closer touch with the 
habits and practices of the natives than Hedges or 
Beard could hope to be. It is not surprising therefore 
that Hedges found obstacles persistently thrown in 
his way on his journey to Dacca, and that when he 
arrived there, the negotiations were protracted by 
every kind of evasion and excuse. On the loth of 
October, to quote from his Diary 1 , " the Agent with 
all his retinue, being 23 Englishmen in Souldier's 
garb and 15 Rashpoots and Peons, embarked on 
two Budgerows and divers small boats, between 6 
and 7 at night, to go towards the English Garden, 
to which place Permesuradas, contrary to his promise, 
sent privately divers armed boats to seize some of 
ours. This night they took one boat laden with 
18 half pieces of fine cloth " (intended as a present 
to the Viceroy) " and carryed it with them so quietly, 
that we heard not of it till ye next morning. This 
evening I was followed to ye Garden by Mutoradas, 
who pretended he was sent by Permesuradas to 
adjust all differences between us before my departure; 
and here in ye presence of Mr Bearde and the rest 

1 i. 34. 


of ye Council ' twas agreed on and determined 
betwixt us, that for a present of 2000 Rupees we 
should have free liberty to receive and send away 
all our goods, of which he was to accept our entry s 
without weighing or seeing them, we being obliged 
at the end of two Months to pay Custom for the said 
goods, if at that time we did not procure a Pherwanna 
from the Duan of Decca to excuse us from it 1 ." On 
the following morning the theft of the boat and cloth 
being discovered, some time was lost before they could 
be recovered. But by noon the expedition was under 
weigh again and had got about three or four miles 
up stream above the English Garden. Here being 
followed on the banks by horsemen and on the water 
by boats full of armed men, it came to a standstill, 
and a message was brought to Hedges beseeching 
him to return in order that Permesuradas might 
beg his pardon and threatening that if he did not 
return, he should not proceed on his voyage without 
killing some of the Mogul's soldiers ; and " what 
the consequences of that might be," to quote again 
from the Diary y " we were left to consider." Anxious 
to avoid any such catastrophe, Hedges went back 
the next morning to the English Garden to consult 
with Beard, and was assured by the native officials 
that if he would only stay there that night, Perme- 
suradas should come and cast himself at his feet, 
begging to be reconciled. When morning came, 
Permesuradas sent to excuse himself for not making 
his appearance, and promising that he would not fail 
to come the next day, which promise, strange to 
say, he kept ; and on his arrival embraced Hedges 
" with much respect before the spectators " ; and 
the two walked together hand in hand, each of them 
attended by his soldiers, to the factory. There 
Permesuradas assured Hedges again of his respect 

1 Hedges i. 34. 


and friendship, and promised on leaving that if 
a servant were sent with him, he would immediately 
give him a letter to his Master (Boolchund) in 
Hedges' favour. 

Having waited for this letter in vain until 5 o'clock 
in the afternoon of the following day, Hedges started 
again on his voyage. " But I had almost forgotten," 
he writes, " ye unjust and villanous practice used by 
Permesuradas towards our boatmen. As many as 
he could take straggling he beat and imprisoned ; 
and those Peons and boatmen he could not take, 
he sent for their wives and children or other near 
relations, beating and imprisoning them, that their 
Husbands and Fathers might leave our service ; 
making also proclamation by beat of Drum through- 
out the town, that if any slave should run away from 
us, he should be free and liberty given to go where 
he or they pleased." " About six o'clock this night," 
he continues, " we got up to the English Garden, 
where ye servant I sent for Permesuradas' letter to 
Bulchund met me, and told me he saw no hope of 
getting the letter ; but was ordered by Permesuradas 
to tell me that he would have me stay there till 
he sent to search my boats to see what was in them ; 
and if I refused to stay there, he would certainly 
stop me again at Tippany some miles further up the 
river." This was too much for the long-suffering 
Agent who proceeded on his course, and though 
followed by an armed boat, got away without 
further mishap. 

It was not until the 25th of October 1 that he 
and his party reached the Company's factory at 
Dacca. On the 27th he visited Ray Nundelall, the 
Viceroy's Duan, who he says " gave me a most 
courteous reception, rising up and taking me by ye 
hands and the like at my departure, which I am 

1 Hedges i. 42. 


informed is a greater favour than he has ever shown 
to any Franke." On the 2Qth he waited on the 
Viceroy at his Durbar, and was much pleased with 
the reception accorded him. " When he gave me 
leave to depart according to their custom/' he 
writes, " he rose up and going away stood still and 
told me I should go first out of His Presence, which 
I'm informed is a greater kindness than he has ever 
shown before to a Christian/' On the following 
day he was still further gratified by the Viceroy's 
sending him at dinner-time his Chief Cook and 
Butler with eight or ten dishes of meat with com- 
pliments from his own table, which he was also 
informed was intended for an extraordinary favour. 
On the ist of November he sent all his presents 
to the Durbar ; but they came back to the factory, 
because Ray Nundelall, without whose attendance 
they could not be given, was indisposed. The next 
day he had bad news from Hugli, that Rangeran, 
his Vakeel there " had been clap't into prison by 
Permesuradas " : that " the same day he had been 
brought forth and slipper 'd, ye next day beat on 
the soles of his feet and the third day chawbuckt 1 : 
and the fourth day drub'd till he could not speak, 
and all to force a writing in our names to pay 50,000 
rupees for custome of the silver brought out this 

On the following morning he called on Ray 
Nundelall to complain of these outrages ; but the 
latter, " being much indisposed at present desired to 
be excused from the trouble of business. I ac- 
quainted his Chief Writer," he says, " with all our 
concerns, who promised this afternoon to tell them 
all to his Master." 

It was not until three days afterwards that 
Ray Nundelall was " so well recovered as to be able 

1 i.e. flogged. 


go to ye Durbar''; and that Hedges was able 
to present his humble offerings to the Viceroy, who 
seems to have been disappointed with them 1 , giving 
him to understand that he did not like so much cloth, 
and desired rather some rarities which would be more 
acceptable to him. When the Durbar was over, 
Hedges sent to ask Ray Nundelall, when he would 
be pleased to accept his own present, and received 
the somewhat uncourteous reply, " When he would 
have it, we should have notice to send it to him/' 
Hedges' Vakeel, Mr James Price, who brought back 
this message, reported that whilst he was discoursing 
with Nundelall, a letter had been delivered to the 
latter from Mr Pitt. That afternoon Hedges called 
himself on Nundelall, " and discourst him fully 
concerning Bulchund and his Servant Permesuradas's 
villainous practices at Hugly. I told him likewise," 
he adds, " of my desire to have him procure me a 
new Phyrmaund, to which he returned this short 
reply ' Your business shall be done for you ' : and 
appointed two of his servants to treat with me 
concerning ye Price and Wording of the Phirman." 

For more than a month this sort of thing went on. 
Hedges had reached Dacca on the 25th of October. 
On the 3rd of December he produced to the Viceroy's 
new Duan, who had succeeded Nundelall, " all the 
Company's old Phirmans and Perwannas for a free 
trade without payment of custome 2 "; and was 
informed by the Duan plainly, that " these were 
once of value : but now signified nothing : that the 
King " (i.e. the present Mogul) " had ordered that 
if custom were not paid at Surat, it must be paid 
at Dacca." Four days afterwards, when Hedges 
protested that such practices would force the Company 
out of the country, the only reply he got was that 
they might go when they pleased. 

1 Hedges i. 46, 47. a Hedges i. 53. 


In the meantime he seems to have made a silly 
attempt to mislead the Viceroy with respect to the ; 
interlopers. On the i8th of November he says, " I 
went to ye Nabob, who after a little pause, enquired 
of me how many ships Mr Pitt had brought into 
this country, to which I replied four or five. He 
then asked whether he belonged to ye Company. 
I answered in the negative. He further demanded, 
whether it was usuall in this country for private 
Merchants to trade in these parts that were not of 
ye Company ? I replied No : at which an eminent 
person stood up, and assured ye Nabob to the 
contrary, and all I could say would not disswade 
from that opinion 1 /' 

In view of the information the Viceroy must 
have possessed of the number of interloping ships, 
which had been trading for years past in Bengal, 
and paying their customs duties, the statement that 
it was unusual for them to do so was not calculated 
to impress him with much confidence in Hedges 1 
veracity. On the contrary, it not improbably sowed 
the seeds of distrust, which led to his outburst of 
rage in the following year, when he ordered the 
Agent's Vakeel, James Price, " to begone out of his 
sight," at the same time expressing his opinion that 
" the English were a company of base, quarrelling 
people and foul dealers." 

For the present however it suited his purpose to 
play with his victim and attain his end, which was to 
secure the payment of the duties and a handsome 
gratuity for himself by a simple but very effective 
arrangement. He agreed, as a great concession to 
the Company, to allow their trade to be resumed, 
provided that security were at once given him that 
at the end of seven months the arrears of duty should 
be paid, if by that time the Mogul's firman for their 

1 Hedges i. 49, 50. 


exemption which he would do his best to obtain 
for them were not procured. Hedges jumped at 
the offer ; and promptly gave the necessary security 
and undertaking to pay the Viceroy (" the doting 
old Nabob " as he contemptuously termed him) 1 
20,000 rupees for his trouble in the business and 
the Court expenses, which it was represented to 
him the Viceroy would have to pay at Delhi. 
Whether any such application was ever made to 
the Mogul may be doubted. Some months after- 
wards Hedges was notified that it had been made 
and that it had been unsuccessful, but that there 
was good reason to hope that if a further pay- 
ment of 20,000 rupees were made to the Viceroy the 
firman might after all be obtained. This further 
payment he made, but with no better result than 
the former one. The security given for payment 
of the duties was in due course enforced and all that 
the Company gained by the negotiations was a short 
postponement of the date of payment of the customs 

1 Streynsham Master and other predecessors of Hedges knew him 
better, and spoke with a wholesome dread of his crafty tricks and 
those of his Duan, by which he had accumulated, Master says*, 
a vast treasure, "so great a treasure as the like is seldome heard of 
nowadays, being computed at 38 currores of rupees, each currore 
is a million sterling, and his income is dayly 2 lack or 200000 
rupees, which is above 20000 sterling." Tavernierf, who had 
sold him many goods and jewels, for which at his own request he 
was paid in bills of exchange payable at Kasimbazar, because of 
the danger of carrying silver, found on presenting them that orders 
had arrived from Shaista not to pay them, unless he would con- 
sent to a rebate of 20,000 rupees, being the amount which Shaista 
declared he had been overcharged. Notwithstanding his exactions, 
his subjects prospered greatly under his rule. " During his govern- 
ment grain was so cheap that rice sold at the rate of 640 Ibs weight 
for the rupee, to commemorate which event, as he was leaving Dacca, 
he ordered the Western Gate, through which he departed to be built 
up and an inscription placed thereon, interdicting any future Gover- 
nor from opening it, till he had reduced the price of grain to the same 
rate, in consequence of which injunction the gate remained closed 
for fifty years." (Stewart's History of Bengal p. 323.) 

* Hedges 2. 235. f Tavernier i. 134. 


duties and an order from the Viceroy to his officials 
to send Pitt and Captain Dorrell to Dacca to give 
security not to use any hostility towards the Mogul's 
subjects when they had gone out of port. Hedges 
plumed himself immensely on his cleverness in 
obtaining this last order. " If they come and 
appear 1 /' he writes, " their voyage will be lost this 
year. If they abscond and go away, they will be 
esteemed villaines, and not permitted to come again 
hereafter." Needless to say, his anticipations were 
not realised. The interlopers did not comply with 
the order. ' The perwannas 2 ," he tells us afterwards, 
" were compounded with Bulchund and 5 per cent, 
paid for all their goods, though these men are so 
shameless as to deny it. I shall not fail," he adds, 
" to give the Nabob notice of this treachery in his 
officers." If ever the Viceroy got this notice, it is 
not unlikely that it afforded him some amusement ; 
for there can be little doubt that his servants were 
acting throughout this business under his instructions 
and that he received his full share of the moneys 
paid to them by the interlopers. 

Hedges did not get away from Dacca till the 
15 th of December 3 . He would probably have stayed 
on longer, if it had not been absolutely necessary 
for him to return to Hugli to superintend the getting 
of the Company's goods on board of their ships before 
the monsoon, a business for which he was far better 
qualified by his London experiences than for negoti- 
ating with an Eastern potentate and his officials. 
On the afternoon of the preceding day he had 
visited the Duan to take his leave of him, " who 
gave me," he writes, " great hopes of prevailing 
with ye Nabob to procure us a Phirman, assuring 
me, twice, he would (God willing) take the first very 

1 Hedges i. 53. 8 Hedges i. 63. * Hedges i. 58. 


>pportunity to acquaint the Nabob with my request, 
id to inform James Price with ye Nabob's resolution, 

ind for that purpose advised me to leave James Price 
behind me to take ye Nabob's answer in case my 
occasions would not permit me to stay for it myself. 
I replied that ye time was so far spent that ye 
Honble Compy's occasions would not permit of my 
longer stay at this place, but I would leave my 
Vekeel and his present with Mr Pownset at ye 
"English factory and so took my leave of him." 
On the 6th of January, when he had got back 1 to 
Hugli, he heard from James Price that the rough 

" raft for the promised application to the Mogul had 
;en completed and that Price had drawn a bill on 
him for another 20,000 rupees payable at 13 days 

dght to the Viceroy's Vakeel, which bill Hedges at 

>nce accepted. He summarises on this occasion in 
Diary the advantages which he believed he had 

gained by his skilful diplomacy. The most important 

>f these was his success in inducing the Viceroy to 
undertake the procuring of the Mogul's firman which 
he thinks there is no great doubt he will obtain. 
If God gives me life to get this Phirmaund," he 
writes, " into my possession, the Honble Compy shall 
never more be troubled with Interlopers. I bless God 
for this great success I have had beyond all men's 
:pectations in my voyage to Decca." 

Having managed to get the Company's goods on 
board their sloops at Hugli, he went himself with 
them to Balasore, where the East Indiaman, the 
Defence, went off with them on the ist of February. 
The next day, whilst dining at the Bankshill about 
seven miles from Balasore, he had the pleasure of 
seeing Dorrell and Pitt pass by in their sloop 2 , " with 
4 guns and about 30 English seamen to work the 
vessel and row in ye Crowne's pinnace to tow the 

1 Hedges i. 61, 62. 2 Hedges i. 65, 66. 


sloop/' The next day the Crown and the two other 
interloping ships sailed out of the road for England. 

The rest of the acts of Hedges and all that he did 
in India after Vincent and Pitt had gone home in 
the Crown ; his inquiries into the malpractices of 
the Company's servants ; his quarrels with Beard 
and Job Charnock, the future founder of Calcutta ; 
his futile attempts to stop interloping, and the 
peculations of the Company's servants ; his super- 
session by President Gyfford and his ignominious 
dismissal from the Company's service ; his retreat 
for safety to the very same house in the Dutch 
Garden at Hugli to which Vincent had betaken 
himself for refuge two years before ; and his final 
escape on board an interloping ship to Persia ; are 
they not all written in his own wonderful Diary, 
so providentially unearthed by Mr Barlow in manu- 
script from a book-seller's shop at Canterbury, and 
subsequently rescued from oblivion by its publication 
by the Hakluyt Society, with invaluable notes and 
extracts from unpublished records by Sir Henry 
Yule, the President of the Society, which have since 
formed the great storehouse of information to which 
every student must go who desires information con- 
cerning Governor Pitt and the doings of the other 
East India Company's worthies of his day. 

It would have been difficult for the Company 
to have chosen for the hopeless mission on which 
he was sent to India a more honest or better meaning 
or more quaintly ineffective man than poor Hedges. 
With the best intentions in the world he seems on 
every occasion of importance to have made more or 
less a mess of every business that he took in hand. 
No man could have been less fitted to contend against 
the wily old fox Vincent and his masterful young 
coadjutor Pitt, or with the astute Eastern officials, 
who played upon his vanity and fooled him to the 


top of his bent with the most transparent excuses 
and the most illusory promises. Nor was he more 
fortunate in his dealings with the Company's officials, 
who quickly took his measure, questioned the 
validity of his orders and declined to obey them, 
at the same time sending home to the Court dis- 
paraging letters, one of which written by his colleague 
Beard, he intercepted, and was so amazed at its 
contents that he writes 1 , " I can scarcely beleeve my 
own eyes when I read it." He was indeed an 
unlucky man. Everything he meddled with invari- 
ably went wrong. At the same time from the 
beginning to the end of his unfortunate career in 
India, he seems to have been always perfectly 
satisfied with himself, and to have never tired of 
thanking God for wholly imaginary successes. It 
was a lucky day for him and for the Company when 
at last he left the country. How unfeignedly glad 
was he himself to do so is made clear in his Diary. 
" It has thus pleased God 2 /' he writes in January 
1685, " to deliver me from the implacable malice 
of all my enemies, who have taken greater pains to 
prejudice me by endeavouring to frustrate my voyage 
to Persia than ever they did to hinder ye Interlopers, 
whom they have dayly caressed and favored contrary 
to the Company's express orders upon all occasions." 
And again a few days later : "I bless my God, 
ye Creator of Heaven and Earth, who has been 
graciously pleased to carry me through so many 
troubles and afflictions of divers kinds, to see this 
joyful day, maugre all ye Plots and contrivances of 
my implacable enemies President Gyfford, Agent 
Beard, Mr Charnock and ye rest of that wicked 
confederacy, out of whose hands He hath been pleased 
to give me Deliverance." 

1 Hedges 2. 43. 

2 Hedges i. 176, 179. 


His journey home through Persia, carrying the 
bones of his dead wife and infant child, which he 
ultimately buried in a Wiltshire churchyard 1 , took 
him rather more than two years to accomplish. 
Within three months after reaching England he 
married a widow. In the following year he was 
knighted. In 1700 he was an unsuccessful candidate 
for the Lord Mayoralty. This seems to have been 
his last failure. For he died in 1701. 

1 Hedges 2. 24, 25. 



VINCENT and Pitt reached London rather earlier 
than they had been expected to do by the East India 
Company, who were awaiting their arrival with much 
interest, looking forward to seeing them brought back 
ignominiously as prisoners, by Captain Heath in the 
Defence. The Court's news that year from Surat of 
the success of the measures taken by their officials 
for the suppression of interloping on the Western 
Coast of India had been good ; and that the Company 
were confidently hoping to receive equally satis- 
factory reports from Hedges and Beard is clear from 
the following extract from their letter to the Bay of 
the soth of May 1683 1 . " We understand Pitts 
arrived at Ballasore some daies before you, but before 
Vincent could have notice thereof : and considering 
the Season of Rain at that time, the Soldiers sent 
you from the Fort and those you carryed, Wee 
cannot think it was possible for Vincent, Littleton 
and Pitts, or any other wicked adherents to do us 
any mischief, before you surprised them, so that by 
Captain Heath Wee expect you have sent them home 
in safe Custody according to our orders to you." 

" The Wreck of the Interlopers Wee look upon 
as a just Judgment of God upon their disloyal and 
unjust proceedings, and that it will have such an 
effect upon all men's minds here as to convince the 

1 Hedges 3. 12. 
D. 4 


Deluded World of the Vanity and Folly of those 
persons that would persuade them the trade of 
England in India is to be preserved by any other 
means than the strict Rules and Discipline of an 
United Stock governed by .a select and authorised 
Councell : and if you can acquit yourselves as well 
this present year, as our Servants in other places 
did the last year, the very name of Interloping must 
of necessity fall into General Reproach, Ignominy 
and Contempt/' 

By this time the Company had at last screwed 
up their courage to take legal proceedings in the 
English courts of law for the enforcement of their 
alleged monopoly of the Eastern trade. They had 
been advised by counsel that there were three ways 
by which this might be done 1 . First, by orders from 
the Court of Admiralty stopping interloping ships 
from leaving England. Secondly, by actions for 
damages in the King's Bench. And thirdly by 
informations in the Crown Office in the King's name, 
upon which such as were found guilty might be 
mulcted in fines to the King at the discretion of the 
judges. They had however, at the same time been 
warned that the English law would not justify them 
in seizing the goods or ships of the interlopers on 
their return home. 

The time for action was very opportune. King 
Charles the Second, who had granted them their 
last Charter, was in the plenitude of his power. 
He had dissolved his last Parliament, and for the 
present saw no necessity to convoke another, so that 
no question of the Company's right to stop the 
ships of interlopers from leaving England could be 
raised in the House of Commons, as was afterwards 
done in the Redbridge case. Having assured them- 
selves of the King's support, the Court of the Company 

1 Hedges 3. 13. 


made a complaint in Council against one Sandys, 
who had loaded a ship with the avowed intention 
of trading in the East Indies. The King had ordered 
his Advocate in the Admiralty Court to stop this 
ship from sailing, until Sandys had given security 
that he would not trade within the limits of the 
Company's Charter. This security Sandys had 
refused to give ; and he had applied to the King's 
Bench for a prohibition against the order of the 
Admiralty ; but his application was ultimately 
refused on the ground that no suit was pending in 
the Admiralty Court in which the King's Bench could 

At this juncture the Crown arrived in London ; 
and the Company, though somewhat disconcerted 
at finding that Vincent and Pitt had returned on 
board of her, free men and in possession of a valuable 
cargo, which could not lawfully be seized, proceeded 
at once against both men by information in the King's 
name in the Crown Office, with the result that they 
and Dorrell were arrested, and kept in custody for 
some days, until they had each given security to 
the extent of 40,000. 

This no doubt was an unexpected blow ; and the 
Court of the Company in their letter 1 to Surat on the 
2oth of July expressed their opinion that it would 
make Vincent and Pitt sick of the interloping trade 
for the future. But its consequences do no.t seem 
to have been after all very serious. The fine ulti- 
mately imposed on Pitt was only 1000, of which 
600 was abated by the Company, and Vincent was 
knighted by James the Second within the next two 
years. There can be no doubt that both men made 
very large profits from their adventure 2 . Mr John 
Petit, writing to a friend in Surat in the following 
March, speaking of some persons who had reported 

1 Hedges 3. 13, * Hedges 2. 115. 



that the interlopers were repressed, says, "As to 
the interlopers, I have as true news as they. The 
Crown arrived in London, and sould their goods to 
great advantage, and noe man durst lay a ringer on 
them, and till they can finde a tricke to confiscate 
all Interlopers goods, they will finde all their other 
endeavours vanish into wind/' 

Young Thomas Pitt was now in a very enviable 
position. At the early age of thirty he had not only 
made what in those days must have been regarded 
as a very considerable fortune, but he had also 
become a man of mark. During the past year he 
had been the recognised leader of the interlopers 
in Bengal ; and in that capacity had not only held 
his own but achieved an unprecedented success, 
notwithstanding the exceptional measures which the 
Company had taken with the object of crushing him. 
His remarkable good fortune due to the intelligence 
and intrepidity with which Vincent and he had 
designed and carried out their interloping campaign, 
coupled with his intimate personal acquaintance with 
the Eastern traffic, must have brought him into 
close touch with the very large body of influential 
London merchants who were interested in inter- 
loping and determined to break down the monopoly 
of the Company at any cost. He and they must 
have taken the keenest interest in the proceedings 
pending against Sandys ; and have awaited with some 
anxiety the decision to be shortly given in the King's 
Bench on the validity of the Company's Charter, 
which would have a very important bearing not only 
on the proceedings pending against Pitt and Vincent, 
but also on the larger question, whether interloping 
could for the future be carried on with any reasonable 
hope of success. As has been shown, the Company 
had succeeded in keeping Sandys' ship in port. 
Some months before the arrival of the Crown in 


London, the Court had written out to Fort St George 1 , 
" Sands still continues disquieting himself and us 
at law to little purpose, while his ship and Goods 
hath lain at wrack in this River 7 or 8 months, and 
is never likely to put you to any trouble in India/' 
From a letter written a little later to Surat, it appears 
that the Company had successfully taken similar 
proceedings against some twenty-five other inter- 
lopers. But they had not yet attained their main 
desire, which was to obtain a definite pronouncement 
by the King's Bench of the validity of their Charter. 
Sandys had failed in his application against the order 
of the Court of Admiralty by which his ship had 
been detained. But his application had been dis- 
missed not on the ground that the Company's Charter 
was valid ; but merely because the King's Bench 
had decided that they had no authority to intervene, 
as no suit was pending in the Admiralty Court. 
A legal decision that the Company's Charter was 
valid could, it would seem, only be obtained by the 
Company's instituting proceedings in the King's 
Bench. This they accordingly did by commencing 
an action against Sandys in that Court for damages. 
That they entertained good hopes of success is clear 
from the following extract from their letter to Surat 
on the 7th of April in the following year. ' The 
litigation between us and Interlopers of the last two 
years goes on well according to the method of pro- 
ceedings in the Law of this Kingdom, and have no 
doubt but the result of all our suits will be to our 
satisfaction, and we suppose our Adversaries are of 
the same opinion, the rather because We do not know 
of any Interloper gone for India this year or designed 
to goe." 

Few cases have at any time created more excite- 
ment in the mercantile circles of London than this 

1 Hedges 3. 13 


long forgotten action, which is reported in the State 
Trials as " The great case of Monopolies between 
the East India Company Plaintiffs and Thomas 
Sandys, Defendant, Whether their Patent for Trading 
in the East Indies, exclusive of all others, is void 1 /' 
Great pecuniary interests were involved in it, and 
there being no lack of funds on either side, the most 
eminent legal talent available was employed to 
exhaust its ingenuity and learning in discovering 
reasons for and against the maintenance of the 
monopoly. The Company had engaged the services 
of the Attorney-General, Sir Robert Sawyer, the 
Solicitor-General Finch, afterwards Earl of Notting- 
ham (Swift's " Orator dismal of Nottinghamshire") 
and the most promising of the young lawyers of the 
day, John Holt, afterwards Recorder of London and 
ultimately Lord Chief Justice under William the 
Third. The counsel for Sandys were Sir George 
Treby, who had recently incurred the displeasure 
of the King and been removed from his appointment 
of Recorder of London, and Pollexfen. Each of 
these subsequently became Lord Chief Justice. The 
third counsel for Sandys was Mr William Williams, 
late Speaker of the House of Commons, who had 
up to this time been a strong Whig and Exclusionist, 
but who was afterwards made Solicitor-General 
and a baronet by James the Second, and who is best 
known to fame as the leader for the Crown in the 
trial of the seven bishops. It is reported that the 
case was argued with great heat on both sides, 
which is not to be wondered at, seeing that the 
Company, after smarting for years from the increasing 
mischief done to their business by the interloping 
merchants, were now staking their monopoly on 
the result of the trial, whilst their antagonists, who 
had so long presumed on immunity in the confident 

1 Cobbett's State Trials Vol. 10. 


belief that the Company would never dare to pro- 
ceed against them in the courts of law, were in- 
dignant that advantage had at last been taken of 
a very abnormal political situation to bring the 
action, which was to be tried before Jeffreys, who 
had recently been created Lord Chief Justice, and 
was popularly supposed to be prepared to go 
any lengths in the direction of stretching the Royal 
prerogative. Throughout the trial he made con- 
temptuous references to Sandys, and seems to have 
taken a malicious pleasure in protracting the pro- 
ceedings and keeping him in suspense. The first 
hearing came on in the Michaelmas term of 1683, 
and judgment was not given till the Hilary term 
of 1685. In April 1684 at the conclusion of the 
hearings, the Lord Chief Justice asked Sandys' 
counsel, when he would like to have it argued again, 
and on the latter suggesting the next term, replied 
that was a little too soon, and that it had better 
be put off till the Michaelmas term. " I know," 
he said, " Mr. Sandys is in very great hurry, but the 
zeal and transport of any particular person must 
not think to oblige us to go hand over hand in a 
case of this great moment/' " My Lord/' replied 
Pollexfen, " we shall be well content to stay until 
the Michaelmas term/' " Aye/' replied Jeffreys, 
" I know the Counsel will ; but whether your client 
will or not, I cannot well tell, and do not much care. 
Well, we will consider of it, and hear another argument 
in Michaelmas term." 

The arguments of counsel and the decisions of the 
judges in this case were very voluminous. They 
occupy nearly 200 pages of the State Trials, and have 
long since lost any other than historical interest. 
For the purposes of the present work a few extracts 
from them will suffice. The main contention of 
Holt, who opened the case on behalf of the Company, 


so shocked even Lord Campbell, one of his warmest 
admirers, that while admitting that he fears Holt 
was not ashamed of it, he pleads in extenuation that 
if Holt had been at that time on the Bench he would 
rather have died than have given utterance to it. 
It must indeed have seemed rather antiquated even 
in that age. He argued that the King had power 
to grant the monopoly, because he had control over 
all trade with foreigners, and particularly over trade 
with infidels ; that the inhabitants of India, being 
infidels, it was right and proper for the King to 
exercise great caution in the selection of such of his 
subjects as might deal with them. " I do conceive," 
he said, " that by the law of the land no subject of 
England can trade with infidels without licence from 
the King or at least it is in the power of the King 
to prohibit it. And for this very reason, because 
infidels are by the law taken notice of, and the law 
hath adjudged them to be perpetual enemies. The 
law hath set a mark upon them, and they are used 
as all other enemies are. And so the express words 
of my Lord Coke in Colvins case. Says he, infidels 
are perpetual enemies. If a man do beat a man 
outlawed, a traitor, or a pagan, and they bring an 
action, he may plead his being a pagan, and an 
abatement of his action. I mention this, my Lord 
to shew what an opinion the law hath of these 
people, judging them to be enemies as they are 
infidels ; and for that reason has excluded them 
from the benefits of the law and the common justice 
the Nation affords. And from that it may be 
inferred that since the law hath excluded them from 
common justice, surely the law will not allow an 
intercourse or intimate correspondence with such 
persons to the subjects of England. And, my Lord, 
this is grounded upon the care the Government 
hath, or ought to have by the constitution of the 


Government itself, of the Christian religion, which 
I conceive is the main end of Government. The 
profession and preservation of Christianity is of so 
" igh a nature, that of itself it supersedes all law. 
f any law is made against any part of the Christian 
ligion, that law is ipso facto void. Why ? Because 
is made against the prime and original end of 
overnment. If the King conquers a Christian 
ountry, their law continues until it be altered by 
he King. But if he conquers a pagan country, 
" e law ceases ipso facto to be law, for the law of 
fidels is contrary and repugnant to the Christian 
eligion. Why then, if the Christian religion have 
he preference in Christian Countries, there must 
be some means provided by the law, whereby the 
King may have the power to preserve it, and there 
is nothing more dangerous to the right religion, 
than for the professors of that religion to have 
commerce with pagans. We read how the children 
of Israel were perverted from the true religion by 
converse with the nations round about them in the 
Book of Judges/' " The Government is to take 
care that there is not an infection by correspondence 
ith infidels. My Lord, it is not to be doubted, 
ut that the King is to have a care of the Christian 
religion. Why then, my Lord, if this be true, then 
it is lawful for the King to take care and use his royal 
authorities to prevent all his subjects from being 

In reply to this argument Sir George Treby 
contended that the Charter purported to grant 
a monopoly to the Company and was therefore void. 
In support of this view he quoted Lord Coke's 
definition of a monopoly, and also that in the pre- 
amble to the Statute of Monopolies, and the Declara- 
tion in that Act " That all grants of monopolies and 
all other matters or things whatsoever, any way 


leading to the constituting, erecting, strengthening, 
furthering or countenancing of monopolies are 
altogether contrary to the laws of the realm and 
utterly void and of no effect/' " If therefore," he 
continued, " this trade to the East Indies be a lawful 
trade, then the patent for restricting of it must be 
a monopoly. The nature of a monopoly consists in 
restraining a common right ; it appropriates to one 
or to a few what others had the right of before." 
He went on to say, " I confess I did a little wonder 
to hear merchandising to the East Indies objected 
to as an unlawful trade, and did not expect so much 
divinity in the argument. Generally speaking, 
merchandise was always reckoned a lawful trade. 
Every man might use the sea, and trade with other 
nations, as freely as he might use the air. And for 
this trade to the East Indies, it was lawfully used 
before there was a Company, or else there had never 
been a Company. At common law no man could be 
prohibited to exercise his trade, for that is an avoid- 
ance of idleness. I do not know a greater property 
than freedom of trade and labour. The King cannot 
take away sixpence that a man has got by his trade, 
much less can he take away his whole trade. If the 
profit which a man gets by his trade is his own, 
the liberty by which he acquires it is his own, other- 
wise the whole property of trade were precarious. 

' Where there has been occasion to prohibit any 
merchandise, it has been done by Act of Parliament. 

" I shall now answer Mr Holt's arguments and 
allegations. First he says that by the law of England, 
no subject can trade with infidels without the King's 

" I must deny the law to be so. He cannot find 
any Statute, judgment or resolution in all our law 
books to this purpose. All the authority he has is 
a casual saying of a single judge in Michelburn's case. 


To this slender authority I answer. If the law had 
been according to this conceit, there would have 
been much said and done about it in other cases. 
There would have been proceedings against persons 
that had traded to Grenada (of which the Moors had 
the dominion 200 years ago), to Barbary, to Turkey, 
and other infidel places in Asia, Africa and America ; 
but we never heard or read of any till now. 

" Secondly. It is an apocryphal case. That book 
called Brownlow is of little authority. It was 
printed without the approbation of the judges or 
any legal licence. And the conceit is of less authority. 
It is reported as dictum obiter upon a motion, a casual 
saying of the judge, which the clerk took or likely 
mistook ; for it is nowhere said in my lord Coke's 
own books, though they are voluminous. 

" Thirdly. The reason there given makes strongly 
against the Charter. The reason is lest men should 
decline from the faith, so that there is it seems 
a special trust in the King that he should suffer none 
to go into infidel parts, but such as are orthodox, 
sound and firm in religion : such of whom the King 
is specially assured that they will not fall from the 
faith ; which is to be exercised by the King only, 
and he is to grant licenses to particular and known 
persons, of whom he has this confidence. The King 
cannot grant his Royal care to the Company. But 
now this Charter would have this trust deputed and 
transferred. For it contains a license not only for 
the then members of the Company (who were 22 or 
23 years ago) but their unknown successors and their 
sons begotten and to be begotten and their servants, 
factors, apprentices and licensees/' 

The same line of argument was adopted and 
amplified by Pollexfen, who contended at great length 
that the Charter came within the Statute of Mono- 
polies, and that it produced all the evils and mischiefs 


that monopolies did ; that it kept up the price of 
commodities ; that it was for the private gain of a few, 
and to the injury of the many and that it led to the 
oppression of the people. Dealing with the contention 
that the Indians were perpetual enemies he added to Sir 
George Treby's argument the following consideration : 

" But because our religions cannot be reconciled, 
that therefore there should be a partition wall 
between us, as to property and commerce, perhaps 
is a Doctrine as irreligious as can be, and does 
destroy all means of coming to convince and reduce 
them to the faith. Let a man consider the conse- 
quences of this Doctrine. If they are perpetui 
inimici then we may justify killing of them, as those 
we are in hostility with and justify the taking away 
what they have from them, as in 17 Elizabeth 4 fol 
1314, it is adjudged that a man may seize and take 
the goods of an alien enemy, wherever he can find them ; 
for it is the prize of his adventure to take them, and 
of his victory over his enemy, if he have taken him. 
And 2 Henry 7. 15, if an infidel be an alien enemy 
then any man may take the goods of any infidel and 
have them to his own use. And this would be a good 
trade, if this be so. Any man may kill and beat him 
if this be so." 

Mr Williams, the junior counsel of these two great 
lawyers, further urged that the grant ought not to 
have been made by the King except by the advice 
of Parliament ; and that the grant of such Charters, 
as the Company's, was one of the ardua regni which 
was a subject matter fit and proper for the considera- 
tion and deliberation of a Parliament ; and ought 
not to pass without their assent. 

These arguments, convincing as they may have 
seemed to the merchants who heard them, and as 
they would probably be considered by most persons 
nowadays, appear to have had very little effect on 


Jeffreys and the judges, who sat with him to hear 
the case. Sir Robert Sawyer, the Attorney-General, 
and Finch, the Solicitor-General, insisted strongly on 
the doctrine laid down by Holt that the King's 
subjects had no right to trade with infidels without 
the King's license. In support of it the Solicitor- 
General quoted some ancient cases, in which Jews 
in England had been unable to enforce the payment 
of debts due to them from subjects of the King, 
and an atrocious ancient law, by which if a Christian 
married a Jew, it was felony and the offending party 
was to be burnt ; and he argued that if the law was 
so cautious for the safety of religion as to restrain 
the converse of the King's subjects with infidels in 
this country, a fortiori it would restrain them from 
trading in an infidel country. Great stress was also 
laid on the fact that the King could, by a writ of 
ne exeat regnum, restrain any subject from leaving 
the realm without assigning the cause for so doing ; 
and it was contended that the King's possession of 
this power fully justified him, notwithstanding the 
passing of the Statute of Monopolies, in granting 
valid charters, the effect of which was to exclude 
all his subjects but those to whom the charters were 
granted from taking part in any foreign trade. 

Two judges sat with Jeffreys on this case. The 
judgment of one of them, Mr Justice Walcot, has not 
come down to us ; but it is reported to have been 
practically to the same effect as that of his 
colleague, Mr Justice Holloway, which has survived. 
Holloway held that the King by the Common Law 
had a prerogative to restrain all his subjects from 
going beyond sea ; that he had the controlling power 
over all trade with infidels, indeed over all foreign 
trade in general ; and that although his subjects 
might not trade with infidels without his license, 
ret with his license they might do so, " as the Jews 


were prohibited from commerce with other nations, 
yet Solomon traded with Hiram, King of Tyre, for 

Jeffreys' judgment, which seems to have been 
given a few days before the death of Charles the 
Second, is unusually long. After premising that it 
was " a great grace and eminent act of condescension 
in the King to the defendant, that he had permitted 
this great point of his prerogative to be disputed 
in Westminster Hall ; but that by this he had 
sufficiently signified to all his subjects that he would 
persist in nothing, though it might seem never so 
much to his advantage, but according to the laws 
of the land," he endeavoured to prove that the 
King was invested with this prerogative by the law 
of the nation, and by ancient usage, because the 
King might prohibit any of his subjects from going 
beyond the seas at pleasure, and recall them again 
as he thought fit, and that without giving any reason. 
" And here/' he said, " by the way I think it not 
improper to take notice of an objection that was 
made by the defendant's counsel of the unreasonable- 
ness that the King should be entrusted with this 
prerogative. The very objection seems to carry an 
unsavoury as well as unreasonable mistrust in a 
subject to his prince. For it is a maxim in our law 
that the King can do no wrong, and I am sure the 
constant practice of our present King has not given 
us the least umbrage for this diffidence, and I think 
I may truly say, we are as safe by our prince's own 
natural inclinations, as we can be by any law in this 
particular." " And as this is his intention, so 
certainly it is against his interest to make such 
grants as the defendant's counsel seems to fear. For 
it is more for the King's benefit than it can be for 
his subjects, the greater the importation of foreign 
commodities is ; for from thence arise his own 


customs and impositions, those necessary supports 
of the crown : and therefore in some sense the King 
is the only person truly concerned in this question ; 
for this island supported itself in many ages without 
any foreign trade at all, having in it all things 
necessary for the life of man. ' Terra suis contenta 
bonis, non indiga mercis,' says the poet. And truly, 
I think, if at this day most of the East India commodi- 
ties were absolutely prohibited, though it might be 
injurious to the profit of some few traders it would 
not be so to the general of the inhabitants of this 
realm/' " Mr Williams' remark of the difficulty of 
this case, that it should necessitate the King to call 
a Parliament to determine this question, is not to 
be passed without some observation. God be praised, 
it is in the King's power to call and dissolve Parlia- 
ments, when and how he pleases ; and he is the only 
judge of these Ardua Regni, that he should think 
fit to consult the Parliament about. And Mr Williams 
would do well to save himself the trouble of advising 
the King what things are fit for him to consult his 
Parliament about, until such time as he be thereunto 
called. But it hath been too much practised at this 
and other bars in Westminster Hall of late years, 
to captivate the Lay Gens by lessening the power 
of the King and advancing, I had almost said, the 
prerogative of the people ; and from hence come the 
many mischiefs to the King's subjects in parts 
abroad, by making the power of the King seem so 
inconsiderable, as though he were a mere Duke of 
Venice, being absolutely dependent upon his Parlia- 
ment. Would it not be mightily for the honour and 
dignity of the crown of England, think ye, that the 
Emperor of Fez and Morocco or any prince in the 
remote parts of the world should be told ' That 
Mr Sandys, one of the King of Great Britain's 
subjects, came into the Emperor's territories against 


his prince's consent, and that he had no power to 
hinder him, unless he could consult with all his 
nobles, and the representatives of all his common 
subjects, to assist therein ? ' Would not the Emperor 
believe Sandys to be the greater prince of the two ? " 
" I cannot help being of opinion that this kingdom 
was in greater regard abroad and the inhabitants 
more prosperous at home, when the prerogative of 
the crown was more absolute than it is now. Therefore 
it is our duty, as good judges as well as good subjects, 
to endeavour to support it as much as we can by 
law/' He then went at great length into the pre- 
cedents cited by the Attorney- and Solicitor-General, 
and proceeded, " Now if the subjects of England had 
not before this grant, a freedom and liberty to trade 
to the Indies against the King's royal pleasure, the 
charter at the bar will be no monopoly within that 
rule " (i.e. the Statute of Monopolies). " Now that 
they had no such liberty hath been sufficiently 
proved by the several prohibitions mentioned before ; 
and the many instances thereof cited by Mr Attorney 
and Mr Solicitor; and it would be very strange, if 
the King might prohibit foreigners from coming here 
into England, and not prohibit his own subjects 
from going into foreign countries. These and the 
like attempts, if not prevented, will render the 
King and his government low and despicable in all 
other parts of the world." " The Indians, being 
infidels, are by law esteemed common enemies ; 
and the opinion of my Lord Coke in Michelburn's 
case, I think, therefore to be law, notwithstanding 
the objections that have been made against it, 
which none of the books warrant. Now the King 
by this Charter makes the plaintiffs as it were his 
ambassadors to concert a peace, and Mr Sandys 
murmurs because he is not one of them." " This 
Company was never assailed in Westminster Hall till 


this cause at the bar. I cannot therefore help this 
observation, that as the King by his Charter takes 
notice, that the charters granted by Queen Elizabeth 
and King James remained uninterrupted till the late 
rebellion, so the interlopers against the King's 
prerogative in this particular, and the horrid con- 
spirators against the King's life in this last hellish 
conspiracy, first appeared in Westminster Hall at 
the same time." " So that I conclude the first, and 
as I conceive the only point in this case, that the 
letters patent which give license and liberty to the 
plaintiffs to exercise their sole trade to the Indies 
within the limits of this grant, exclusive of all others, 
is a good grant in law. Secondly I do conceive that 
the defendant's trading to the Indies, contrary to 
this Charter, may be punished by information at 
the suit of the King." " Upon the whole matter 
I am of the same opinion with my brothers ; and 
therefore let the plaintiff take his judgment." 

The effect of this decision was not only to recover 
for the Company the damages they had claimed 
against Sandys, which amounted to 1000, and to 
render the result of the proceedings which they had 
commenced against Vincent and Pitt and a large 
number of other interlopers a foregone conclusion ; 
but also to stop all interloping ships from leaving 
London for many years to come. In the meanwhile 
the only practical action which the London merchants 
were able to take against the Company, was to 
continually arouse public opinion against the mono- 
poly ; and after the accession of William and Mary 
to raise in the House of Commons the question of 
the constitutional right of the King to grant any 
exclusive rights to the Eastern trade without the 
assent of Parliament. Their persistent efforts in 
each of these directions were, as will be seen, ulti- 
mately successful. 



ONE of the consequences of the decision of the 
King's Bench in Sandys' case was that for ten years 
after his return fronT India with Vincent, Thomas 
Pitt was compelled to refrain from any active 
participation in further interloping adventures. This 
enforced abstention from so lucrative and congenial 
an occupation, in which he had so signally proved 
his preeminence, may at first have been pain and grief 
to him, as it doubtlessly was to many other energetic 
and pushing young seamen of his day. But in his 
case it had its compensations. He had been very 
suddenly raised from poverty to affluence, and 
from hardship and toil to ease and comfort. Wealth 
had come to him at a time in his life when he could 
enjoy its advantages to the full, the more so because of 
the novel experiences which it had opened out to him. 
Many a young man in similar circumstances, in the 
prime of his strength and vigour, constrained to settle 
down to a humdrum life in England, would have 
felt that his working days were over, that he had got 
all he wanted, and was fully entitled to spend the 
remainder of his life in luxurious idleness. For a 
while Pitt may have felt so. If we may judge from 
his own account of himself during this period 1 , written 
many years afterwards to his son Robert, he seems to 
have kept up a very comfortable establishment in 

1 Dropmore i. 24. 



Condon, such as befitted a prosperous merchant, where 

iany of his friends were substantial business men, 
id where he not infrequently had the pleasure of 
entertaining his numerous relatives and old acquaint- 

ices. " I had a house in London/' he says, " which 
>tood me in 120 per annum, kept coach and horses, 

ervants and all answerable, always three or four 
>hes of meat at my table, as good wine as the 
world afforded, and plenty, and made my friends 
ind relations very welcome, and had always twelve 
>r fourteen in family. My pocket expenses and all 
manner of things included, it never exceeded a 
thousand pounds per annum/' Incomes and the 
cost of living in those days, it is hardly necessary 
to say, were far smaller than they are now ; and 
a thousand a year then was equivalent to several 
thousands at the present day. Gregory King, who 
has been well described as the father of our political 
arithmeticians, in his Scheme of the income and expense 
of the several families in England for the year 1688, 
sets down his estimate of the average annual incomes 
of the most important classes of the community as 
follows. " Temporal Lords, 2800 ; Spiritual Lords, 
1300 ; Baronets, 880 ; Knights, 650 ; Esquires, 
450 ; Gentlemen, 280 ; Persons in Office, from 
240 to 120 ; Merchants and Traders by sea, 400 ; 
Merchants and Traders by land, 200 ; Persons in 
the Law, 140 ; Clergymen, from 60 to 45 ; 
Freeholders, from 84 to 50 ; Farmers, 44 ; 
Persons in Sciences and Liberal Arts, 60 ; Shop- 
keepers and Traders, 45 ; Artisans and Handi- 
craftsmen, 40 ; Naval Officers, So ; Military 
Officers, 60 ; Common Seamen, 20 ; Labouring 
people and Out Servants, 15 ; Cottagers and 
Paupers, /6. los. ; and Common Soldiers, 14." 
A young merchant, who in those days could afford 
to live in London, at the rate of a thousand a year, 



must have been an exceptionally fortunate man. 
After a while he seems to have made his peace with 
the East India Company, notwithstanding the mis- 
chief he had done them, and the heavy expenses to 
which they had been put in prosecuting him for his 
misdemeanours. At this stage of his career, it was 
probably to their interest as well as his that they 
should be on good terms with one another. The earliest 
indication of their reconciliation seems to be an entry 
in the Court Book of the Company of the i6th of 
November 1687, from which it appears 1 that the 
Company were " so kind as to abate 600 " of the 
fine of 1000 imposed upon him by the Court of 
King's Bench " for Interloping within the limits 
of the Company's Charter and other great misde- 
meanours committed in the East Indies, wherein he 
was concerned." In the following year he was 
admitted to the freedom of the Company without 
payment of the customary fee. 

But he was by no means contented to be a mere 
city merchant. Year by year after his return to 
England in common with the vast majority of his 
fellow countrymen he must have become more and 
more disgusted with the outrageous proceedings of 
James the Second. He aspired to take his part in 
the councils of the nation ; and with that end in 
view applied a considerable portion of his moneys 
to the purchase of landed property of a kind likely 
to be serviceable to him in the attainment of this 
object. In politics he was throughout his life a 
staunch Whig. Jeffreys' judgment in the Sandys 
case, which he must have regarded as iniquitous, 
cannot have inspired him with any great attach- 
ment to the Stuart cause. Within a few days of its 
delivery came the death of Charles the Second. 
Jeffreys proceedings in the Bloody Assize a few 

1 Hedges 3. 16. 


months later, of the details of which, being a Dorset 
man, he must have been fully cognisant, and the 
rbitrary government of James during his short 
eign, were not calculated to change his political 
lews. In after years he bitterly resented the Tory 
>ropensities of his son Robert, and expressed his 
iews with regard to them in no measured terms, 
[olding the opinions that he did, it is not surprising 
:hat he took the most practical means available in 
those days of supporting the cause which he had 
espoused. It was fortunate for England that he 
did so, not merely because of the part which he 
himself took in the great bloodless revolution, which 
was brought about by Parliament, when it placed 
William and Mary on the throne, but also because 
the political influence which he thus acquired 
resulted in the unbroken connexion of himself and 
his descendants with the House of Commons for the 
next hundred years or more. In 1688 he bought 
from James Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, the manor of 
Stratford under the Castle, and was returned as 
member for Old Sarum in the election of the Con- 
vention Parliament, and for New Sarum (Salisbury) 
in the Parliament of 1690 1 . In 1691 he became the 
owner of the site of Old Sarum, and the votes attached 
to it, thereby securing the representation of the 
borough for himself and his heirs. Had this seat 
not remained in the Pitt family, it is quite possible 
that his famous grandson, the Great Commoner 
might never have entered the House of Commons. 
For it was as member for Old Sarum that he first 
sat in Parliament. During these years Pitt also 
bought considerable landed property at Blandford 
St Mary, and for the remainder of his life, he was 
constantly buying land whenever a favourable 

1 Parliamentary History v. 30, 546, 962. 


opportunity presented itself, and he found himself 
in possession of funds which he could conveniently 
spare for the purpose. 

As capitalist, member of Parliament and country 
gentleman, his intercourse at this stage of his career 
with a large circle of acquaintances and friends of 
all classes in London and the country must have 
supplemented to a great extent the deficiencies of 
his early education. He was no longer a mere 
rough sea captain, with an intimate knowledge of 
the Eastern trade ; but a gentleman of quality, 
interested not only in the politics of the day, but 
also in urban and rural pursuits, and able to hold 
his own in all sorts of society. That he took his 
duties as member of Parliament seriously may be 
inferred not only from what we know of his Parlia- 
mentary career, but also from the advice which he 
gave his son Robert from India in 1706 l . " If you 
are in Parliament/' he writes, " show yourself on 
all occasions a good Englishman, and a faithful 
servant to your country. If you aspire to fame in 
the House, you must make yourself master of its 
precedents and orders. Avoid faction, and never 
enter the House prepossessed, but attend diligently 
to the debate, and vote according to your Conscience 
and not for any sinister end whatever. I had rather 
any child of mine want, than have him get his bread 
by voting in the House of Commons." In those 
days there was a strong line of demarcation between 
the landed and the moneyed classes in the House 
of Commons. Thomas Pitt was in the unique position 
of being a member of each class. 

Apart from the political influence which he had 

secured by becoming a land owner, he seems to have 

ienyed much personal pleasure from the improve- 

ent of his estates and particularly from the planting 

1 Dropmore i. 27. 


of trees. Indeed forestry appears to have been one 
of the few hobbies in which he habitually indulged 
throughout his life. The memorandum which he 
gave to his son Robert, when he sent him home 
from Fort St George in charge of the famous Pitt 
diamond, contains side by side with the strictest 
injunctions for the preservation and disposal of that 
priceless jewel, and the most admirable directions 
for the education of his sons and daughters, the 
following passage 1 . " When you go into the country, 
see that my plantations are well looked after and 
large nurseries full of all sorts of trees, ready to 
transplant when I come home/' In his correspon- 
dence he repeatedly recurs to this subject. When 
his son informs him of the purchase of an additional 
plot of ground at Old Sarum, he writes 2 , " Take 
care to plant the piece of new ground with as many 
trees as it will take, and the improvement of which 
may in time pay for the Vote, and doe the same on 
my other estates/' When he thinks that his son 
has paid too much for another small holding his 
comment is, " I observe in Mr Philipp's particulars 
that Carter's house, barnes, orchard and garden are 
valued at 22 years purchase, the like never heard of 
before. To mend this hard bargaine, I would have 
you to look after the young trees mentioned. Nothing 
can contribute so much to the retrieving misfortunes, 
as planting and rayseing nurseries, if hee has the land 
to doe it on." Whilst cutting down other expenses 
on another occasion, he makes an exception in favour 
of this one. " I will have nothing further done," 
he writes, " but what is necessary to preserve new 
plantations. Inquire into the gardener's business. 
Charge him to raise all manner of trees for planting 
out." And again, " Encourage what you can the 
planting of timber and disposing of what has come 

1 Dropmore i. 5. 2 Dropmore i. 24. 


to maturity to be cut, and the tenants in planting 
orchards and trees for timber." 

It seems indeed as if he had tried his hand at 
forestry in India, though his first efforts were un- 
successful. His steward, Philips, writes to him from 
Stratford on the 4th of December 1701 *, " Yours 
dated Sept 1700 I have now before me, and am sorry 
the seeds &ca came to nothing. Your Lady will 
now take Care to send you more from London by 
this Bearer, and get them put in Bottels, which will 
save the carrig from hence. As for your Plantations 
(Thank God) they prosper very well. Wee have 
planted a Row of Trees in your Meadows on the 
Bank of the Carrig from my house to the upper 
end (most Oaks) and we have done the like on Hill 
Parke Side, a Walke from the Parsonage Barns to 
the Mills, besides what we have done on the Castle 
and several other places. We have made a double 
Walk of Firrs on both side the Long walk, from the 
House to the River, and cross walks of them between 
the Fishponds. The two Green plots next the 
Prebend is allsoe planted with them, and the two 
little Gardens before the Pigeon house for 2 Groves 
on each side the House, whereof some of them by 
the long walk are nere 20 foot high. And most of 
them raised in your owne Garden by a new experiment 
of our owne for less than a Crowne charge. And 
have enough left to plant the top of Old Castle, if 
you could gett it to be made levell." 

This letter seems to have given unwonted satis- 
faction to Pitt, then grilling in Madras, and his reply 
to it is for him quite a gracious one 2 . " I received/' 
he says, " yours of the 4th December last, and desire 
you'l continue to give me the like yearly account 
of these affairs. I received noe seeds this year, and 
when you send any it must be in bottles, and the 

1 Hedges 3. 71. 2 Hedges 3. 77. 


tuO ^ 




Captain must be desir'd to keep them in the Coolest 
part of the Ship. I heartily intreat the continuance 
of your care of my plantations, and that you'l yearly 
encrease them, and see that my Gard'ner keeps 
large nurseries of all sorts of Trees by him, that so 
I may have sufficient to transplant as I shall see 
occasion, when I come home ; I wish you could send 
some ffir tree seed hither with some advice and 
directions of what you have newly discovered in that 
matter." He concludes the letter by subscribing 
himself ' Your most assured ffriend and obliged 
humble servant, Tho. Pitt." 

Readers of Lord Rosebery's Early Life and Con- 
nections of Chatham, may remember that this taste 
for the laying out of land and planting of trees 
descended to Thomas Pitt's favourite grandson, and 
that in his case it proved a very expensive and by 
no means remunerative hobby 1 . 

Although he had a good town house in London, 
the improvement and planting of his estates probably 
led Thomas Pitt to spend much of his time in the 
country ; and he seems to have had every disposition 
to make himself befitting residences on each of his 
estates there. He enlarged his manor house at 
Stratford (Mawarden Court), and when he bought 
the manor of Blandford St Mary, he pulled down 
the seat of its former owner, and built a new manor 
house in its place 2 . He did not care much for an 
estate without a good house upon it. " Remember," 
he writes on one occasion from India 3 , " to buy no 
estate, but where there is a good house thrown into 
the bargain." Country born and bred, he must have 
inherited a love of rural life, that had come down 
to him from a long line of ancestors : and his chief 
ambition seems to have been to found a branch of 

1 Rosebery pp. 307-309. 

2 See Hutchins History of Dorset. 

3 Dropmore i. 42. 



the Pitt family, not inferior in position to that 
occupied by the head of the Dorset Pitts, Sir 
George Pitt of Strathfieldsay. There is good reason 
to believe that at this period of his life, he would 
have been contented with the realisation of this 
desire, had not circumstances arisen that rendered 
it necessary for him, if he was to maintain the 
position that he had won, to embark once more 
on an adventurous career, from which he derived 
so great an accession of wealth, that the scope of 
his ambition became thereafter greatly extended. 

A clue to these circumstances is to be found in 
Lord Rosebery's work, above referred to, on page 3 
of which the following quotation is given from an 
intimate family document written in 1781, by Lord 
Camelford, Thomas Pitt's great-grandson, entitled 
" Family Characteristics and Anecdotes/' " I have 
heard/' Lord Camelford writes in this MS., "but at 
what period of his life I know not, that having 
accomplished such a sum as he thought would enable 
him to pass the remainder of his days in peace, he 
was taken prisoner together with the greatest part 
of his effects on his return to England, and released 
at the intercession of the Duchess of Portsmouth, 
who was then in France. He went back to India, 
and made in a shorter time a much larger fortune 
from the credit he had established and the experience 
he had acquired." 

There is only one period in Thomas Pitt's life 
at which any such circumstances as are here referred 
to can have occurred; and that is the time im- 
mediately preceding his last interloping expedition 
to India in 1693. King William's French War began 
in 1689 and ended in 1697. Pitt started on his 
last interloping expedition in 1693 and returned in 
1695. He was appointed Governor of Fort St George 
m 1697 ; and remained in India until 1708 ; nor did 


he ever go back to India after his return to England 
in that year. From that time onward his career 
is so well known that there is no period in his subse- 
quent life during which his having been taken 
prisoner by the French could have passed unnoticed 
in the records of the time, and in the voluminous 
correspondence of himself and his friends which has 
been preserved. On the 3oth of June 1689, the 
English and Dutch fleets had been defeated at 
Beachy Head, and the command of the Channel 
was not regained until the victory of La Hogue in 
1691. Throughout this war French and English 
privateers swarmed in the narrow seas preying on 
the commerce of the two nations. If ever Thomas 
Pitt was taken prisoner by the French, it must have 
been during this war. Privateering was a very risky 
business ; and it is known that he took part in it. 
Letters of marque are still extant 1 , which show that 
he was associated with other merchants in the 
equipping of at least one privateer, which was to 
prey on the French ships. He had been brought 
up as a sailor ; and if any reliance is to be placed 
in the family tradition preserved by Lord Camelford, 
which is by no means an improbable one, it is not 
unlikely that he was taken prisoner by the French, 
whilst serving on board of this or some other English 
privateer in which he held a heavy stake. There 
is another circumstance which to some extent 
supports the tradition that he was taken prisoner 
by the French about this time. It appears by a 
letter from the Old East India Company to him 
on the 23rd of September 1695 2 , after his return 
to England from his last interloping expedition, that 
he was engaged by the Company in a negotiation for 
the purchase of one of the Company's ships, the 
Edward, and the cargo of another, the Princess Anne 

1 Von Ruville i. 28. z Hedges 3. 32. 


of Denmark, which had been captured by the French 
and carried into Brest ; and that the Company 
undertook to recompense him for that service " with 
the usual encouragement for your pains and care to be 
taken in that business/' words which seem to imply 
that he had had some previous experience in similar 
transactions, or that he had acquaintances in France, 
who might be helpful to him in that line of business. 
It does not appear that he was successful on this 
occasion 1 . There is a later entry in the records of 
the Company in the following year (1696) ordering 
that the duties payable on 119 pieces of calicoes 
brought home in their ship, the Martha, and consigned 
to him be remitted to him " in consideration of his 
pains and charges in endeavouring to buy the East 
India ships and their cargoes, that were taken by 
the French in the last year/' But the fact that he 
was selected by the Company for this commission 
is noteworthy in connexion with the family tradition 
recorded by Lord Camelford. 

Had no such serious financial reverse befallen him 
towards the end of his ten years' residence in England 
as seems probable not only from that tradition 
but also from the reference in the inscription on 
his father's monument to the " utriusque fortunae 
vices " which he is there recorded to have undergone, 
what were the motives which induced him, a wealthy 
member of Parliament, whose political party was then 
in the ascendant, to throw up his pleasant life in 
England and to face again the sordid and hazardous 
hardships and indignities of the interloping trade ? 
The ten years which were then coming to a close were 
probably the happiest of his life. His health and 
strength were as yet unimpaired. None of his 
family troubles had begun. He was on affectionate 
terms with his wife. His children, of whom he had 

1 Hedges 3. 33. 


five, three boys and two girls, had none of them 
reached an age to give him much anxiety. Living 
in London in comfortable quarters, a member of 
Parliament, in an assured position, consulted in 
matters of difficulty by interloping merchants and 
possibly on occasion by the East India Company, 
at a time when the Eastern trade was absorbing 
the attention of the mercantile community of 
London, with a fine country house at Stratford and 
an estate at Blandford, what was more likely than 
some sudden heavy pecuniary loss to lead him to go 
back once more to the risky business of interloping, 
which he had relinquished ten years before, with 
other youthful escapades ? 

To realise his position at this stage of his career, 
it is necessary to bear in mind the relations at that 
time existing between the Old East India Company, 
and the strong and influential body of London 
merchants who had been scheming persistently for 
years to break down its monopoly of the Eastern 
trade, and who had now made very substantial 
progress in that direction. On the accession of 
William and Mary the struggle between these 
merchants and the Company had been promptly 
transferred from the Law Courts to the House of 
Commons. On the 8th of June 1689, the rival 
merchants had succeeded in obtaining a vote of 
censure in the House against the inhuman pro- 
ceedings of the Company's officials at St Helena 
and even in excluding some of the worst offenders 
from the Act of Indemnity passed in that year. 
Very shortly afterwards they had induced the 
Government to nominate a Committee to consider 
the best means of managing the East India trade. 
The Committee had reported in favour of the forma- 
tion of a New Company and a New Joint Stock, 
coupling their recommendation with an expression 


of a pious opinion that the Old Company should 
continue the trade to the exclusion of all others, 
either interlopers or permission ships until the New 
Company was established. Before effect could be 
given to the resolution of the House, adopting this 
recommendation, Parliament had been dissolved. 

An association of merchants had however at once 
been established for concerted action against the 
Old Company, and what was practically a New 
Company had been organised, with a subscribed 
capital of 180,000, Skinners' Hall in Dowgate having 
been secured for their headquarters. The vehement 
struggle in Parliament which had ensued between the 
Old Company and the New Association had culmi- 
nated in the Commons' presenting an address to the 
King on the 6th of February 1692, praying him to 
dissolve the Old Company, and to issue a Charter 
to a New Company on such terms as His Majesty 
might see fit. In reply the King had proposed that 
the capital of the Old Company valued at 740,000 
should be raised by a fresh subscription to i-J or 
2 millions and that the new subscribers should be 
incorporated with the members of the Old Company 
under a Charter for twenty-one years. This com- 
promise had been refused by the Old Company ; and 
in February of the following year the Commons 
presented another address to the King, praying him 
to dissolve the Old Company after three years' 
notice. The King had come to no decision on this 
question before he left London in the following 
month on his Dutch campaign for that year. Had 
not war left him little leisure for the consideration of 
home affairs, and had not Sir Josiah Child persuaded 
more than one of his most trusted ministers by 
lavish corruption to espouse the cause of the Old 
Company, the King would in all probability have 
insisted on its coming to terms with its opponents 


without any further delay. For it was extremely 
unpopular, and the New Association had the whip 
hand of it in the House of Commons. 

There can be little doubt on which of the two 
sides Pitt had ranged himself during these proceedings 
in Parliament and the City ; and the fact that he 
was now on what must have seemed to most persons 
to be the winning side would not unnaturally have 
been an inducement to him, if he had been in a strong 
financial position, to remain in England at this crisis, 
so as to be able to appropriate his share of the 
plunder, when the imminent fall of the Old Company 
took place. On the other hand, if he had recently 
incurred such heavy losses as Lord Camelford's MS. 
indicates, the ruin of the Old Company even if it 
came about at once, would not necessarily be accom- 
panied by any substantial pecuniary gain to himself. 
For he would have little, if any, capital to invest 
in the stock of the New Company. A far better 
chance of retrieving his fortunes would be for him 
to go out to India, whilst there was still time, on 
another interloping expedition, if he could get his 
friends to back him. Neither he nor they were 
likely to have any scruples as to the propriety of 
such an adventure. A year or two afterwards, when 
some reflections were made on his character, he wrote 
with conscious pride 1 , "And for the Supporting my 
Creditt, I dont remember I was indebted or con- 
cerned in anything whatever that could be censur'd 
by any, unless it was interlopeing, which I have never 
repented of to this day." Nor had he any reason 
to do so. No discredit attached in England to the 
interloping trade. The public opinion of the day was 
strongly on its side. It was not even clear at this 
time that it was illegal. In the late reign of James 
the Second, three years after Jeffreys' extraordinary 

1 Hedges 3. 29. 


judgment in Sandys' case, the refusal of the King's 
Bench in the case of the Merchant Adventurers v. 
Rebowe 1 to enforce a monopoly to trade with 
Holland or Brabant, granted by the King without 
the confirmation of Parliament, had left the Company 
no leg to stand upon, but the ridiculous doctrine 
that in a trade monopoly a distinction could be 
drawn between trade with Christians and infidels. 
If the question of the validity of the Company's 
Charter had at this time been brought before the 
courts, there can be little doubt what the result 
would have been. This being the case, Pitt, the 
most successful interloper of the day could have had 
little difficulty in finding backers in the members 
of the New Dowgate Association, who apart from 
the large profits they might reasonably hope to 
obtain from the adventure, must have realised that 
at this juncture nothing was more likely to force the 
hand of the Old Company than a successful resump- 
tion of the interloping trade. A fine vessel was 
accordingly fitted out by them for this purpose, 
on which Pitt started for India in the month of April 
1693 on his last interloping expedition. 

1 Modern Reports 3. 126. 



THE earliest contemporary record of Pitt's last 
interloping expedition which has survived, seems to 
be the following entry in Luttrell's Historical Relation 
of State Affairs. " ist April 1693. On Thursday an 
extraordinary Council at Kensington, where was a 
great hearing before his majestie between the East 
India Company and Capt Gifford and Capt Pitts, 
two interlopers. The Company prest to have the 
interlopers hindered from going to sea, alledging 
it would be detrimental to the Company by their 
informing the Indians of the state of their concerns, 
and to obviate the objection of the interlopers charge 
to fitt out this to sea will send the ship to sea on 
the Companies account. And after a long debate 
left to be determined among themselves." 

So far as appears from this entry, the main 
reason put forward on behalf of the Company for 
stopping the expedition was their desire that the 
natives of India should be kept in the dark with 
respect to the imminent danger of dissolution, which 
threatened the Company in England ; and with this 
object the Company were willing to pay any ex- 
penses which might have been incurred by the 
adventurers in fitting out the expedition, to take 
over the ship and cargo which had been provided, 
and send it out themselves on their own account. 
It would appear that the King was unwilling to 
intervene in the matter, either by putting pressure 

D. 6 


on the adventurers to agree to this proposal, or 
bv taking any steps to prevent them from going 
to sea. He apparently did not hold the strong 
view of the heinousness of interloping which was 
entertained by the Company, or share their opinion 
as to the importance of concealing in India what 
had passed in the English Parliament. It would 
have been strange if he had done so. The Company 
were not popular in England, and there was no good 
reason why he should go out of his way to make 
himself more unpopular than he was already, by 
espousing their cause. Moreover, they had rejected 
his recent recommendation for a compromise. It is 
also quite possible that he was aware of the fact 
that the interlopers had always been on good terms 
with his Dutch subjects in Bengal and had made the 
Dutch quarter of Hugli their headquarters on more 
than one occasion. On the following day he left 
England for his campaign against the French. 

His decision that the Old Company and their 
opponents should settle their own differences among 
themselves failed to bring about any immediate 
settlement, as might have been expected ; and the 
interloping ship, the Seymore, set sail without any 
further attempt to stop her. From the Court's letter 
to their Agent, Job Charnock, of the 28th of April 
1693, it would seem that two Orders in Council had 
been obtained, permitting the interlopers to prosecute 
their voyage to Madeira, and that authentic copies 
of these orders were enclosed in it by the Court. 
From this letter it appears that Captain William 
Gifford, who had attended the Council at Kensington, 
was commander of the ship, and Thomas Pitt and 
Mr Allen Catchpole the supercargoes. " Wee are very 
much disposed," the Court tell Charnock, " to 
frustrate her Voyage, whatever it costs, wel knowing 
nothing to be done in India without money. Mr Pitts 


and Catchpole will make a great huffing and swagger- 
ing, if they arrive there as they did formerly, but 
you have a good guard of soldiers about you, and 
if they prove faithful you need not fear any great 
LOWS they will make there, not that Wee would 
tve blood shed, but Wee would not have you 
>utlooked or Triumphed over as Pitts did formerly 
>ver Mr Beard, who wanting the Language of the 
mntry could not work so secretly with the great 
ten in Bengali, as you may doe that have such 
irfect knowledge of their Language and Methods 
in all respects 1 ." In this letter Charnock is authorised 
to give Mutoradas 2 , who it may be remembered was 
in Hedges' day an assistant of the wicked Permesu- 
radas, and was now apparently the Company's chief 
customer in those parts, " for his expences and for 
the assistance of his ffriends at Dacca a present of 
four or ffive thousand pounds, as you shall see cause 
when the Business is done to your Content. In the 
mean time give him a Positive assurance of it, and 
buy as many Goods of him as he can furnish you 
with, tho' they lye by you or him in Godownes 
Untill our next Ships arrive with you, and he have 
his money for them." ' We would have no force 
used on our side, but all things to be done with 
Wisdom and Money except the Interlopers offer any 
force against the natives our Allyes, and in such Case 
we would have you give order to our Captains and 
officers by force to rescue any of our Allyes, their 
Ships, Effects or Persons out of their hands. And 
if there be occasion upon this Conjunction to increase 
the number of your Peons or Topass Souldiers Wee 
would not have you Stick at that charge nor any 
other, tho' not herein particularly mentioned, to 
prevent and defeat this Interlopers Voyage." " We 
dyrect this Letter only to your Self that you so keep 

1 Hedges i. 17. 2 See page 37. 



it, or show it to your Councill if you think fitt : but 
you must conclude you have some false Brethren, as 
well as Mr Beard had/' 

In following the course of the struggle which 
ensued between Pitt and his colleague Catchpole on 
the one side and the officials of the Old East India 
Company on the other, and contrasting it with that 
in which Pitt had been engaged ten years before, 
when he came out in the Crown to rescue Vincent and 
his property from the vengeance of the Company, 
we must remember that on both occasions our main 
information is derived from his opponents, and that 
we have no statements by Pitt himself of what 
occurred to go upon, except casual references in 
letters written long afterwards. It is also necessary 
to bear in mind the changes which time had brought 
about in the circumstances of the two contending 
parties. On the former occasion Pitt, who is de- 
scribed by the Court of the Company " as a desperate 
young fellow of a haughty, huffing daring temper 
that would not stick at doing any mischief to them 
that lay in his power/' in disregard and, it may 
almost be said, in defiance of the legal proceedings 
that had been instituted against him by the Company, 
had come out to India in command of a lawless 
expedition with the express object of saving Vincent 
from being arrested and brought to justice for alleged 
malpractices of which there can be little doubt 
that he had been guilty. Pitt had not only succeeded 
in accomplishing this object, but in doing so had 
incidentally made large gains from very successful 
interloping operations. Now, a well-known Member 
of Parliament, and a country gentleman, at the 
mature age of forty, without any attempt at con- 
cealment, he was coming out to the old haunts and 
happy hunting grounds of his youth, with the 
knowledge and tacit consent of the King, on a peaceful 


enterprise for the furtherance of a trade which a few 
lonths later was expressly declared by the House 
>f Commons to be one in which every English 
subject had an equal right to engage unless prohibited 
>y Act of Parliament 1 . In the meantime, whilst 
is position had so materially improved, that of the 
Company had been steadily deteriorating ; and was 
LOW so hopelessly discredited in England that the 
lain object of the Company in frustrating his 
^oyage was to prevent their difficulties at home 
:om being made known to the natives of India. 
There also the fortunes of the Company had been 
undergoing a still more serious change for the worse, 
mainly owing to the disastrous policy adopted by 
Sir John Child, the President of Surat and General 
of their affairs in India, with the support and approval 
of his brother Sir Josiah, the Governor of the Company 
at home. For years before this new policy had been 
adopted, the Company had persistently discouraged 
the fortification of their Indian settlements, and had 
exhorted their servants to rely rather on the firmans 
they could obtain from the Mogul and the local 
rulers than on forts or garrisons. At length, 
exasperated by what they regarded as the unreason- 
able and vexatious exactions of the Mogul and his 
officers, they had determined to wage war against 
him, with ludicrously inadequate forces and most 
lamentable consequences 2 . On the Western Coast of 
India many of their factories had been seized and 
looted. Sir John Child had evacuated Surat and 
betaken himself for safety to Bombay. In Bengal 
their prosperous factories at Dacca, Patna and 
Maulda had been sequestrated and their factors 
imprisoned. Then Kasimbazar had been surrounded 

1 Resolution of the House of Commons in the Redbridge Case, 
1 9th January 1694. 

2 Hunter 2. 240. 


by an armed force, which had extorted money from 
the merchants, plundered the factories and besieged 
the English residents. Charnock, the Company's 
Agent had with difficulty succeeded in making his 
escape from the town and reaching Hugli. But the 
English factory there was soon surrounded with 
another hostile force ; and the English were not 
only denied the necessities of trade, but forbidden 
to purchase victuals at the bazaar or to send their 
soldiers thither for supplies. The disregard of this 
order brought about a general fight, in which the 
native troops were beaten off 1 . Protracted negotia- 
tions followed ending in the retreat of the English 
in their boats to what was then a deserted spot, 
the site of the present Calcutta, some seven and 
twenty miles lower down the river, accessible at 
high tide to the Company's ships. There they had 
been again attacked, and compelled to take refuge 
on board their ships and continue their retreat to 
the river's mouth, and the fever-haunted creeks of 
Hijili. Nor even there were they allowed to remain 
unmolested ; but were followed up by a native army 
12,000 strong, which cut off their supplies and again 
invested them, until Charnock having buried 200 
of his men capitulated with the remainder, 100 of 
whom were sick and wounded, and rather less than 
100 able to bear arms. On their submission he and 
his surviving companions were contemptuously 
allowed the choice of remaining where they were 
or returning to Hugli. They did neither ; but went 
back to the Calcutta site and endeavoured to found 
a settlement there; but were all taken off some 
months afterwards by Captain Heath to Fort St 
George where they remained till peace had been 
proclaimed by the Mogul in 1690, on the ignominious 
rms appearing in the following firman sent by him 

1 Wilson i. 93-125. 


to the Government at Bombay 1 . " All the English 
having made a most humble submissive Petition, 
that the ill crimes they have done may be pardoned, 
and requested a noble Phirman, to make their being 
forgiven manifest, and sent their vacqueel to the 
heavenly palace, the most illustrious in the world, 
to get the royal favour : Ettimatt Caun, the Governor 
of Surat's Petition to the famous court equal to 
the sky being arrived, that they would present the 
Great King with a fine of 150,000 rupees to his noble 
treasury, resembling the sun, and would restore the 
merchants' goods they took away with them, and 
would walk by the ancient customs of the Port, 
and behave themselves for the future no more in 
such a shameful manner : Therefore his Majesty, 
according to his daily favours to all the people of 
the world, hath pardoned their faults, mercifully 
forgiving them out of his princely condescensions 
agrees that the present be put into the treasury 
of the Port : the goods of the merchants returned : 
the town flourishing : and they follow their trade 
as in former times : and that Mr Child who did the 
disgrace be turned out and expelled. This order is 

It would have been a bitter pill to Sir Josiah 
if he had been forced to recall his brother in accord- 
ance with this edict. Fortunately for both, the poor 
man had conveniently died shortly before it reached 
Bombay. Notwithstanding their heavy losses and 
humiliations the Company had got off more cheaply 
than they could reasonably have expected to do. 
That they were allowed at this stage of their career 
to remain in India at all, instead of being one and all 
summarily expelled bag and baggage, as a warning 
to the European merchants of other nationalities, 
was probably due to two considerations, one the 

1 Stewart's History of Bengal p. 541. 


advantages derived by the natives from their trade, 
and the other the apprehension of the Mogul's 
officers that if they were turned out, their ships 
might take to inflicting by way of reprisal injuries 
on the native coast trade and particularly on the 
Mecca route on the Western Coast. 

On the conclusion of this inglorious peace 
Charnock had gone back, with such of his fugitive 
companions as survived, to Calcutta (Chuttannuttee, 
as it was then termed) with a guard of 43 soldiers, 
and set to work on the malarious river bank in the 
midst of swamps and on what was then one of the 
unhealthiest spots in a most fatal climate, to found 
his new settlement, destined to become the capital 
of India 1 . Such mud hovels as had been built there 
during his former stay had been burnt ; and he and 
his men had been forced to live in their boats and 
tents whilst others were being erected. To Elihu 
Yale, the benefactor of Yale University, who was then 
Governor of Fort St George, the selection of this 
spot for a settlement seemed simple midsummer 
madness. In a letter written to the Company on 
the 25th of May 1691, he describes Charnock and his 
companions as " living in a wild unsettled condition 
at Chittannuttee, neither fortifyed houses nor goe- 
downs, only Tents, hulks and boats, with the strange 
charge of nearly 100 soldiers, guardships &ca, for no 
business and a doubtful foundation, wholly depending 
on the good Nabob's stay and word, the King's 
promised phyrmand not being yet sent them from 
Surratt." A few months later, the 2nd of November 
1691, he complains bitterly of Charnock's still 
remaining there, and that he will not attend to the 
request to send his soldiers back to Bombay, instead 
of keeping them with him " where they are of 
great charge and can be of little service being in a 

1 Hunter 2. 269. 


defenceless place at Chuttannuttee, where he con- 
tinues contrary to all reason or consent of the Govern- 
ment " (i.e. the Native rulers) " who will neither 
permit building a factory, nor merchants to settle or 
trade with them ; but offer him a more convenient 
place for it, two miles below Hughley, but that he 
will not hear of, supposed to proceed from his feares 
of being seized by some of the Government, his 
irreconcilable enemies ; and for his better security 
he has bought a great Portuguez frigett for a guard- 
ship, and this without our order consent or know- 
ledge ; and what he ^ means by this and his other 
expenciveness we undeVstand not 1 /' But though Yale 
could not, Charnock did, by bitter experience, under- 
stand the danger of again putting the Company's 
neck into the noose at Hugh 2 , or anywhere else at 
a distance from the sea, out of reach of the protection 
of their ships, and he was not to be tempted to go 
back to Hugh, even by the perwanna 3 which the 
Viceroy and his Duan had issued exempting the 
English from any customs duties beyond a fixed 
sum of 3000 rupees a year. He had recognised 
the admirable position of Chuttannuttee for trade 
purposes, and was determined to stick to it at any 
cost. Little by little things improved there. Trade 
was started, and he was able to send home one ship, 
though with an incomplete cargo. But before the 
Company's directions with reference to Pitt's inter- 
loping expedition reached him, he had died worn 
out with age and infirmities and the difficulties of 
the almost superhuman task which he had under- 
taken. Had he been living when the letter arrived, 
it would have been anything but congenial to him 
to interrupt the arduous and all-absorbing work 

1 Hedges 2. 87, 88. 2 Wilson i. 142. 

3 A copy of this perwanna will be found in Stewart's History of 
Bengal p. 542. 


on which he was engaged, for a costly and probably 
futile attempt to frustrate the success of Pitt's 
adventure. He had never in more prosperous times, 
if we may believe Hedges, been very keen on the 
suppression of interlopers ; and it may readily be 
believed that his melancholy experiences of the last 
three or four years had not stimulated his energies 
in this direction. Had it been left to him to deter- 
mine, he might well have been disposed to let the 
interlopers alone on this occasion. But he was dead 
and gone, and Sir John Goldsborough, who had 
lately come out as Commissary General and Chief 
Governor of the Company's affairs in the East of 
India, was at Chuttannuttee, engaged when the 
Company's letter arrived on a long report finding 
fault with all that poor Charnock had done, black- 
ening his memory, and setting forth the steps he 
was himself taking to rectify his supposed mistakes. 
One of the achievements for which Goldsborough 
had taken great credit to himself in this document 
was the cutting down the expenses of the 40 soldiers 
whom Charnock had left behind him, which number 
he had reduced to 23, " including a drummer and 
two sergeants," with the stipulation that when the 
factory was built, their numbers should be further 
reduced by one half 1 . He had also told the paymaster 
that the soldiers were to understand that for the 
future they were to receive only four rupees each 
a month ; and that if " they would not serve for 
that, they might go where they will." In view of 
the Court's instructions in their letter to Charnock, 
which had now come to hand, that if he had occasion 
to increase the number of his soldiers, he was not 
to stick at that charge or any other that was in his 
opinion necessary to prevent and defeat the inter- 
lopers' voyage, Goldsborough must, one would think, 

1 Hedges 2. 92. 


have felt some regret at this premature reduction 
of the insignificant military force under his command. 
The Seymore, it appears, arrived at Balasore on 
the ist of October 1693, and before proceeding 
further, Pitt wrote to him on the 22nd of that month 
a letter the purport of which may be gathered from 
the following reply to it dated the ist of November 1 . 

" Sir, By Mr Wilcoks I received yours from Ballasore of the 
22nd of 8ber on the 3oth Do, in which you have written much 
about the H. E. India Company my Masters, and twice in it 
threatened me with your divulging their circumstances, if you 
are obstructed in your way, as if I was to be frighted thereby 
to a conferance with you, which if the H. C. have seen fit to have 
lett you into their interest here, they would have ordered me to 
doe it by you, and you would have gladly been the messenger 
thereof to me. 

But to come close to the matter, it is well known to you that 
I am the H. C. Chief e Servant in these Eastern Parts of the World, 
Commissioned by them under the King of Englands Charter, by 
which the trade of these countreys is granted to them and their 
successors, exclusive to all other the Kings subjects, but whome 
they reduce thereto. 

Therefore if you have any power either from their Majesties 
the King and Queen of England, or from their East India Company, 
to come and trade in these parts, show it to me and I will readily 
obey it, and that will more convince than all you can write or 
say, but in case you refuse and doe not give me such Authentick 
Satisfaction as the nature of the Thing requires, then you are to 
knowe that I must still take it for Granted that you have noe 
such power, but are come hither Either a piroting or at the best 
a Interloping, and I shall deale with you accordingly, and I doe 
hereby protest and declare against you and all your adherents, 
that you are guilty of all the Evil that shall or doth arise thereby. 

J. Goldsborough." 

The insulting and monstrous suggestion in this 
letter that Pitt was a pirate and would be dealt with 
accordingly was no doubt indefensible. But in other 
respects the letter was a justifiably plain statement 
of the course which the writer found himself bound 

1 Hedges 3. 20. 

9 2 


in duty to pursue with respect to interloping captains. 
About a fortnight earlier, however, Goldsborough had 
written another letter to Ibrahim Khan, the Viceroy 
who had succeeded Shaista Khan, which it is more 
difficult to defend. In it he endeavours 1 to persuade 
the Viceroy that the late war which the Company 
had declared against the Mogul had been brought 
about by the interlopers. ' May it please your 
Highness/' he had written, "it is about a month 
since I had the Honour to give your Highness an 
account of my arrivall in these parts, occasioned 
by the King's Husbolhockem to his Duan Kaffait 
Caun for to stop the three European Nations trade, 
upon which I gave your Highness an account of the 
cause thereof, that it was occationed by ill men 
that were ill willers to Government, and that in most 
kingdomes there were such, and that it was from 
them that Interlopers and pirots infested these seas, 
and your Highness remembers the war and many 
differences and troubles some 4 or 5 years past which 
fell between your people and ours here in Bengali, 
which was began and occationed by Interlopers, 

who are such as I have above mentioned Now 

may it please your Highness I have notice from our 
ffactors Residing at Ballasore that about 8 daies 
past arrived in that Road an Interloping Ship. 
. . .Further in the ship is come one of those very 
men named Thos Pitt that were here formerly upon 
the very same Interloping Account, whoe was one 
of them that Layde the foundation of the unhappy 
differences before mentioned and may doe the like 
agen, if your Highness doth not prevent him by not 
permitting him to trade in these parts. I doe there- 
fore humbly intreat your Highness to Consider the 
many Evills that may Ensue if such men be permitted 
to trade, when due notice is given that they are 

1 Hedges 3. 19. 


Interlopers, which may be prevented if your Highness 
in great wisdome shall think fitt to issue forth your 
Commands .... This very Thos Pitt is the man that 
about ii years past did by some sinister Insinuation 
obtain a Perwanna from the Nabob Shasta Caune to 
build a factorie at Hugly, and upon his returne to 
England had great trouble, and hath been by the 
Government there detained from ever Returning 
hither, but Europe being afflicted with extream 
Warrs he hath now gott some Opportunitie to Escape 
from thence once more with Effects and such as 
himself e." 

If this letter was unjustifiable, still more so was 
the reply sent to Goldsborough by Mr Eyre, the 
Company's representative at Dacca, who had been 
entrusted with the duty of handing it to Ibrahim 
Khan. " If your Excellency thinks it convenient/' 
he says in it, "I will acquaint the Nabob and Duan 
that these Strangers that Steale out of their owne 
Countrey in this nature are generally those people 
that rob and plunder on the Seas, and under pretence 
of being Merchants and comeing to trade doe abund- 
ance of mischief to the King and his Subjects, and 
that 'tis more than probable this Ship may be one 
of these. This will soe surprise the Nabob and Duan 
that 'tis thought they will order their persons and 
effects to be seized." 

It is to be hoped that Goldsborough did not 
approve of this atrocious proposal, the result of which, 
if it had been successful, might have been the sum- 
mary hanging of Pitt and his crew as pirates on their 
arrival at Hugli. But if Eyre told the Viceroy any 
such unscrupulous lie, it is clear that no credence 
was attached to it by the Viceroy. Nor was there 
any likelihood that it would be believed. It was on 
record that Shaista Khan had issued perwannas 
permitting the interlopers to trade with the natives, 



and had granted Pitt himself permission to build 
a factory at Hugli. There had been no unpleasant- 
nesses of any kind between the native rulers or 
merchants and the interlopers. The latter had paid 
their customs duties without question. The diffi- 
culties that had arisen between the Company and 
the native Government had been caused by the 
refusal of the Company's servants to pay these 
duties, and the inevitable friction that had ensued 
with the Viceroy's tax collectors. This must have 
been so well known to the Viceroy and his Duan 
that it is surprising that Goldsborough and Eyre 
should have made any attempt to deceive them on 
the point, particularly as Pitt was prepared to come 
to Hugli and pay his duties there, whilst the Com- 
pany's servants still declined to do this, and were 
remaining at Chuttannuttee without the permission 
of the Viceroy for the obvious purpose of evading 
his tax collectors. 

Three days after his letter to Pitt, Goldsborough 
wrote to the Council at Surat 1 , " Wee are Extreamly 
Sickly here this Season, boath Natives and English, 
but I hope God will restore us all." This hope was 
not realised, for he died at Chuttannuttee before the 
end of the month. The mortality of the settlers 
there for some years to come was awful. That the 
site was not abandoned, is an example of what 
dangers men will persistently face where large 
profits are to be made by trade. Writing of the 
place some years afterwards, when it had already 
become a prosperous trading centre, Alexander 
Hamilton, who from 1688 to 1723 was engaged in 
the Eastern trade, in his New Account of the East 
Indies says of it, " One year I was there, and there 
were reckoned in August about 1200 English, some 
military, some servants to the Company, some private 

1 Hedges 2. 160. 


merchants residing in the town, and some seamen, 
belonging to shipping lying at the town ; and before 
the beginning of January there were 460 burials 
registered in the clerk's book of mortality." For 
years it had so bad a reputation that it was nicknamed 
by seamen Golgotha. 

Immediately on hearing of the arrival of Pitt's 
ship the Seymore at Balasore, Goldsborough had 
ordered his right-hand man and confidant, Captain 
Dorrell, commander of one of the East Indiamen then 
in the Bay to do his best 1 to arrest Pitt and any of 
his men that he could catch and to stop them from 
coming up the river to Hugli. He had also des- 
patched Dorrell to the native Governor of Hugli, 
hearing that the latter " was fitting his boat to fetch 
Pitt from Kendua up the river/' " with orders to 
lett him know that if he gave any entertainment or 
countenance to Pitt or his people, or suffered the 
Merchants to trade with him or them, it would bring 
about another war, and that we " (i.e. the Company's 
servants) "would stop Tom Pitt on the river from 
Coming up, and that if by land he did get to Hugli, 
we would fetch him from thence." ' Upon this the 
Governor of Hugly," Goldsborough writes, " seemed 
to be afraid and promised he would give him no 
Countenance or Entertainment, nor the merchants 
should not trade with him, and if Tom Pitt came to 
Hugly, he would deliver him up to us." Notwith- 
standing these promises, it is certain that Pitt and 
his men got up to Hugli safely, with their belongings, 
that they were never delivered up to their opponents, 
and that no attempt was made by the Governor to 
prevent the native merchants from trading with them. 

On Goldsborough's death it was found that he 
had nominated Eyre to be the Agent at Chuttan- 
nuttee, an arrangement to which the Court at home 

1 Hedges 3. 18, 20, 21. 


afterwards took exception. Eyre's selection to the 
post may have been due to the favourable impression 
he had made on Goldsborough by his proposal to get 
Pitt arrested as a pirate, or to the fact that Charnock 
on his deathbed had left him out of the list of the 
men whom he had thought fit to succeed him 1 . Eyre 
was recalled from Dacca and took command at 
Chuttannuttee on the 24th of January 1694. 

On the i6th of April 1694, in a letter to Sir John 
Gayer at Bombay, he admits the utter failure of all 
his attempts to frustrate the interlopers' adventure. 
"Notwithstanding all our endeavours 2 ," he writes, 
" with the Nabob and Duan to frustrate and oppose 
the Interlopers in their designs, they are rather 
countenanced and encouraged by the whole Country 
in generall, and living in Hughley (24 miles higher 
in the Countrey than we), will have greatly the 
advantage of us in both buying and selling, but 
especially in buying all other goods for ready money, 
which all Merchants bring thither, being the Port 
Towne. They have given out Dadney 3 to Merchants, 
who formerly dealt with us to the amount of Rupees 
300,000 by the connivance of the Governor of Hughley, 
to whom they have presented (as we are informed) 
Rupees 4000." 

During the year that Tom Pitt remained at Hugli 
on this occasion he must have driven a roaring trade. 
Some years before, Streynsham Master, when Gover- 
nor of Fort St George, had described the town as 
' the Key or Scale of Bengal, where all goods pass 
in and out to and from all parts." It had been made 
the residence of the Chief and Council of Bengal for 
this reason, and because " being near the center of 
the Company's business, it was commodious for 

1 Wilson i. i 44 . 2 Hedges 3. 22. 

i.e. money advanced to weavers and the like, by those whom 
they are to supply with goods 


receiving advices from and issuing orders to the 
subordinate factories 1 ." Vincent was the first Chief 
there ; and whatever his irregularities may have been, 
the Company's trade under his management had 
flourished and grown with unprecedented rapidity. 
In 1675 the Company's stock allotted to Bengal was 
65,ooo 2 . In 1683 when Hedges 3 was sent out to arrest 
Vincent it had grown to 230,000. Now for some 
years past the Company's trade with Bengal had 
languished owing to the late war, and the destruction 
of the factories. All that was needed to enable it to 
revive, was a capable chief with ample means at his 
disposal. Pitt fulfilled both these requirements. By 
long experience he was intimately acquainted with 
all the details and tricks of the trade and its possi- 
bilities ; and he had besides a personal knowledge 
of the leading native merchants and officials. The 
same may be said of his colleague, Allen Catchpole, 
who had served as factor in the Company's factories 
at Patna, Kasimbazar and Hugh' 4 ; and had been 
dismissed owing to a quarrel with Charnock. These 
two men were now in a position to purchase un- 
limited quantities of the same kind of goods tl\at 
had yielded such handsome returns in the past and 
were now for sale at rates which must have been 
considerably reduced by the recent withdrawal of 
the greater part of the Company's custom. Nor did 
they lack the assistance of some of their compatriots 
in India. During their residence at Hugli, the place 
seems to have become a veritable cave of Adullam, 
to which any Anglo-Indian who was in trouble or in 
debt or discontented with the Company, betook 
himself. Three such men, John Hill, Edmund 
Hussey and William Messenger were carried home 
to England by Pitt the next year, in spite of warrants 

1 Hedges 2. 236. 2 Wilson i. 58. 

3 Hedges i. 2. 4 Hedges 2. no. 

D. 7 


ordering them to present themselves at Fort St 
George, and the protests lodged with Pitt by the 
Council of Bengal. One of these men, Messenger, very 
nearly brought about a fight between the interlopers 
and Eyre's men, as appears from the following ex- 
tract from a letter sent by Eyre to the Court. 

" The 15 th of August we thought it very oppor- 
tunely to putt in Execution a warrant we had received 
from Fort St George concerning one Messenger, who 
had unlawfully taken possession of a house next 
adjoyning to the Interlopers and in order thereunto 
wee sent our Sergeant with 20 men, souldiers and 
seamen to Hugley to seize his person, and take charge 
of the house, for we had heard he had taken the 
Interlopers protection; and our main designe in 
sending so many men was to Interrupt their business 
and trade by Scaring the Government and making 
them believe there was Something Intended against 
Pitts person, that thereby it might be entered in the 
Waacka or Gazett to the Nabob and Duan that our 
intentions were to oppose Pitt by force, which in all 
probability would have putt a Stop to their pro- 
ceedings, for neither the Nabob nor the Duan would 
have given them any Countenance, or permitted them 
to trade, had such a Story been entered in the Waacka 
that Wee designed Quarrell, for this the Duan was 
all along afraid of, and prevented him from giving 
them a Perwanna sooner.... On the Serj ant's first 
arrival with soe many men it putt the whole Citty 
into a Consternation, and Messenger was Seiz'd and 
the house taken possession of without the least 
opposition, but as he was coming to us with a Guard 
on their way as they Passed by the Interloping 
Shipp several Musquet Balls were fired at them from 
the said Shipp, and the boat hailed on board, and 
followed with their Shipps pinnace with Men in Arms 
(as your Honours will perceive more at large by the 



Guards Depositions in our Diary month August) on 
idvice whereof we delivered them a protest by two 
>f your Honours servants and sent Mr Cornell up 
with 32 seamen more to Joyne with the Serjant 
id men already at Hugley, in case of any Violence 
that might be offer 'd by them in retaking the House, 
for they had threatened to oppose us by force, and 
had about 40 men in Arms in their house to Command 
as they should see Occasion and in a small time we 
received their Answer with a reprotest 1 ." 

This appears to have been the last of Eyre's 
abortive attempts to induce the native authorities 
to discountenance the trade of Pitt and Catchpole. 
It is characteristic of the man that he should have 
imagined that the Nabob and his Duan at Dacca, 
both of whom had been apprised of the critical 
position of the Company, would be intimidated 
by the news that this slender force of soldiers had 
come to the Mogul's garrison town of Hugh* with the 
avowed object of arresting Pitt and the interlopers, 
and had ignominiously retreated because they had not 
dared to carry their project into execution. In after 
years Pitt seems to have cherished no resentment 
against Eyre for his conduct on this occasion, or for 
his attempt to get him hung as a pirate 2 . Writing 
when Governor of Fort St George to Beard, Eyre's 
successor at Chuttannuttee in March 1701, he says, 
" Sir Charles was very jolly and merry here, though 
I find him strongly inclined to be wretchedly covetous. 
Soe once taking him in a good humour wee got 
a hundred pagodas out of him for the Church." If 
Eyre had known of the agreement which had been 
come to in England between the Company and Pitt's 
copartners, he might have been inclined to let Pitt 
alone at Hugh. He had not apparently then received 
the Court's letter of the 3rd of January in that year, 

1 Hedges 3. 22. 

2 Hedges 3. 66. 



informing him of this settlement. The Company 
were now interested as much as, if not more than 
Pitt himself in the success of the interlopers. On 
the 2nd of February 1694, they had written to Fort 
St George 1 : " The Concern in the two Ships sent out 
by the Interlopers, being now by bargain with most 
of the interessed become so our own, We have thought 
good to give you notice thereof, to the end that 
whatever remains of their Cargoes, or may yet be 
left ashore, may be carefully looked after, befreinded 
and sent home into the joynt interessed, with whom 
we have a good understanding here/' The next 
month they wrote again to Eyre and his Council: 
" If Mr Pitts be not yet despatch't give him your 
assistance that he may come with our next Ship, 
the Company having a great concerne in him, as we 
formerly advised you/' 

He seems to have started for England early in 
1695. The Bengal Council write on the I9th of 
January of that year to the Court 2 : " Captain Pitts, 
being still in Bengali, wee offered him our assistance 
in recovering what debts he may have made since 
his arrivall, and that wee could take care of any 
Concerne or effects he should leave behind him in 
the Countrey, according to your Honours' directions." 
In the same letter they say : " Captain Pitts to the 
last made a great bounceing, and have carried himself 
very haughtily ever since his arrivall in these parts, 
and has not scrupled to talk very disrespectfully 
and uncivilly of your Honours, and to carry home 
in his ship, Mr Jno. Hill, Edward Hussey and William 
Messenger, persons whome we had warrants from 
Madras to send thither, notwithstanding the protest 
was Delivered to him for Damages your Honours 
might accrew thereby." 

1 Hedges 3. 31. 2 Hedges 3. 32. 



THOMAS PITT cannot have got back to London, 
id given up the command of his last interloping 
expedition before the autumn of 1695. Two years 
tfterwards he was appointed by the East India 
Company Governor of Fort St George. In con- 
sidering the reasons for his selection by the Company 
to this important post, and the motives which 
induced him to accept the appointment, it is neces- 
sary to realise the position of the two parties, and 
the circumstances which drew them together. 

There can be little doubt that the settlement 
to which the Company had come with the principal 
owners of his ship, the Seymore, had been due to 
some extent to the very serious crisis into which 
the Company's affairs at home had drifted towards 
the end of 1693. Their charter had suddenly lapsed 
owing to the failure, accidental or designed, of one 
of their officials to pay within the prescribed time 
the tax imposed by Parliament on their stock. 
Parliament was not sitting when this catastrophe 
occurred. The Company having decided that it was 
absolutely necessary to obtain a new charter at 
once and at any cost, Sir Josiah Child and his 
kinsman Sir Thomas Cook by unprecedently lavish 
bribes to some of the King's principal ministers and 
other influential persons, had succeeded in obtaining 
a regrant to the Company of its monopoly in the 
Eastern trade, without waiting for the sanction of 


Parliament. Nor was this all. Notwithstanding 
the likelihood that their proceedings would be 
called in question, when Parliament met, they had 
placed such reliance on the support which they 
expected to receive from the distinguished person- 
ages, whose services they had bought, that they 
very imprudently ventured to do what the King 
himself had declined to allow them to do when 
Pitt's interloping ship had sailed. They had applied 
for and obtained an Order in Council authorising 
the detention in the Port of London of an inter- 
loping ship, the Redbridge, in the same manner as 
they had stopped Sandys' ship ten years before. 
Parliament had met some weeks later ; and the 
question of the legality of this order and the grant 
of the new Charter had at once been raised in the 
House of Commons by means of a petition presented 
to the House by several merchants and others con- 
cerned in the detained vessel. This petition had 
been referred to a Committee of the House, who 
reported on the 8th of January 1694, that " it was 
their opinion that the stopping of the ship was 
a grievance, a discouragement of trade and contrary 
to the known laws of the Kingdom." Apparently 
this report was not strong enough for the Commons, 
who desired a more definite pronouncement and 
resolved on a division by 171 to 123 that the matter 
be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House, 
who were also to report on the new Charter. On 
the igth of January the Committee of the whole 
House reported that " in their opinion all subjects 
of England had an equal right to trade in the East 
Indies unless prohibited by Act of Parliament." 
And the House at once confirmed this report bv 
a resolution to that effect. 

The Company's letter to their Council in Bengal, 
announcing their agreement with the principal 

vii] FORT ST GEORGE 103 

owners of the Seymore, is dated the 3rd of January 
when the first of these Committees was sitting. 
To what extent in coming to this settlement the 
Company were actuated by a desire to placate some 
of their Parliamentary opponents, their fear that 
the adventure would shortly be declared by Parlia- 
ment to be a lawful one, or their anxiety to share 
in its profits, is uncertain. But there can be little 
doubt that the critical position, in which they found 
themselves, had considerable influence on their 
decision. Serious as that position became by the 
resolution of the House of Commons, it had grown 
still worse before Pitt got back to London. It had 
seemed to their enemies inconceivable that the 
King's ministers should have granted the new 
Charter to the Company without receiving very 
ample consideration for so doing ; and early in the 
following year with the object of ascertaining the 
details of this corruption, they had succeeded in 
obtaining the appointment of a Committee of the 
House of Commons to examine the books of the 
Company. This Committee had reported that it 
appeared from the Company's accounts for the year 
1693, when the Charter had been obtained, that 
more than 80,000 had been expended under the 
head of special services ; that Sir Thomas Cook, the 
then Governor of the Company, whom Sir Josiah 
Child had opportunely left in office to bear the 
brunt of his opponents' attacks, had not been called 
upon by his colleagues for any details in respect of 
this expenditure ; and that the only explanation 
of it which the Committee had been able to obtain 
from him was that there were great persons whom 
it had been necessary to gratify. Cook, on being 
asked in the House who had got the money, refused 
to answer the question. He was committed to the 
Tower ; and a Bill was promptly brought in and 


passed by the Commons, providing that if before 
a specified date, he did not furnish them with this 
information, he should refund the whole of the 
80,000 himself to the Company, pay a fine of 
{20,000 to the Crown and be declared incapable of 
holding any further office. When the Bill reached 
the Lords a compromise was effected, and it was 
arranged that the investigation should be conducted 
by a Joint Committee of the two Houses ; that 
Cook should be indemnified, if he made to them 
a full and true disclosure, but that until he did so, 
he should remain in the Tower. This disclosure in 
due course he made with the result that the Duke 
of Leeds, the King's Chief Minister, was disgraced 
and impeached by the Commons. 

When Pitt returned to England in the autumn 
of 1695 the Company were therefore in great dis- 
credit. Their Charter was practically a dead letter. 
The resolution of the House of Commons had left 
it open to any interloper to engage in the Eastern 
trade with impunity ; and had made it more than 
ever clear that an Act of Parliament would be 
required before any effective new Charter could be 
granted, either to the Company or to their opponents. 
It remained to be seen which of the two parties 
would in the light of day be prepared to pay the 
Government the higher price for it, or on what 
terms the two would unite, and what conditions 
Parliament would impose on any Joint Company 
that might be formed. These questions had not 
been settled before Pitt was appointed Governor 
of Fort St George. 

During the intervening two years he had ample 
time to consider on which of the two sides he should 
range himself. He had in the first place to settle 
up his accounts with the Company, of whom he was 
reported by the Bengal Council to have spoken so 

vii] FORT ST GEORGE 105 

"disrespectfully and uncivilly/' We shall probably 
not be wrong in assuming that this business was 
completed not only to his own satisfaction but also 
to that of the Company. For shortly afterwards 
he was employed by them to negotiate terms for 
the redemption of the Edward, the sister ship of 
the interloping Seymore, which had also been pur- 
chased by the Company, and had had the misfortune 
to be captured by the French and carried into 
Brest 1 . A further proof of the friendly footing on 
which he stood with the Company is to be found 
in an entry of the Court Book in the following year 
of the appointment on his recommendation of his 
nephew, Mr Thomas Curgenven, as factor to the 
Company in Bengal. This young man was the 
son of the Rev. Thomas Curgenven, the Rector of 
Folke in Dorset, who had previously been the Head 
Master of the Blandford Free School and subse- 
quently of Sherborne School, and had married 
Thomas Pitt's sister, Dorothy. It is clear from his 
correspondence that Pitt had a high regard for this 
gentleman, whom he consulted in after years in 
matters connected with the education of his children 
and made at one time during his absence in India 
their joint guardian with his cousin George Pitt, 
the head of the family. 

He seems to have got on admirably from the 
first with Sir Thomas Cook the Governor of the 
Company, who was afterwards responsible for his 
appointment as Governor of Fort St George, and 
remained his firm friend for life. In 1705 Pitt 
in a warm letter expresses his obligations to him, 
" which 2 ," he says, "neither time nor distance can 
make me forget." 

What his relations at this time were with the 
opponents of the Company, it is difficult to determine. 

1 Hedges 3. 33. 2 Hedges 3. 97- 


In the interests of such of them as had backed 
him in his late interloping adventure, and had 
come to an agreement to write the capital they 
had risked into the Company's stock, it had pre- 
sumably been his first duty on his return home to 
act as far as possible in harmony with the Company's 
officials. On the other hand he had probably up 
to that time been on the side of the Dowgate 
Association. When and in what circumstances he 
came to break with them is not recorded. If he 
had approved of their plans and been allowed to 
take a leading part in the execution of them, his 
services might have been invaluable. But if, as 
is not improbable, the Association had already 
determined to adopt the mistaken policy which 
they afterwards pursued, he must have strongly 
disapproved of it in the interests of the English 
trade in India. And if this was the case, being the 
man he was, it imposes no strain on the imagination 
to suspect that he denounced it in terms which 
gave great offence to its advocates. One of the 
most important members of the Association, Sir 
Gilbert Heathcote, seems to have been as stiff- 
backed and masterful a gentleman as Pitt himself 
was ; and was now flushed with his recent successes. 
For he had been one of the principal owners of the 
Redbridge ; and had played an important part in 
the Parliamentary contest, which had ended so 
disastrously for the Company. In after years he was 
one of Thomas Pitt's most 'implacable enemies. It 
is not unlikely that both aspired to the leadership 
of the Association, and that serious differences of 
opinion arose between them. According to Pitt's 
estimate of his own character, he was not a difficult 
person to get on with. " Those who have known 
me longest 1 /' he writes in one of his letters to a 

1 Hedges 3. 78. 

vii] FORT ST GEORGE 107 

friend, " must say that twas never my temper to 
be quarrelling and jangling/' Those who have 
read his correspondence will not be disposed to 
endorse this opinion without some reserve. Like 
Sir Anthony Absolute he may have been compliance 
itself, when he was not thwarted, no one more 
easily led when he had his own way. But when 
he could not get his own way, he could be very 
insolent and exasperating. Heathcote seems to 
have been a somewhat similar character ; and the 
rupture that ensued between the two men may 
have been inevitable from the first. They were 
never reconciled. When Pitt was Governor of Fort 
St George, and Heathcote one of the most influential 
members of the Court of the United Company, 
Dubois, the diplomatic Secretary of the Company, 
did his best to bring about better relations between 
them. Writing to Pitt in 1705, he says 1 : " Sir 
Gilbert Heathcote showed me your letter to him 
with some sort of warmth as if you treated him 
wrong. I wish you would please to write to him 
a little smoother. He and his family have a very 
large stock, and seem to bend their heads to the 
business, and one brother or other of them will 
always be of the Managers/' But placability to 
his opponents was not one of Pitt's attributes ; and 
he was not the man to be induced to write sxib- 
missively to his old foe. Two years afterwards 
another of his friends, Captain Harrison, informs 
him 2 , " Sir Gilbert is the Sovereign of the New 
Company, and holds great sway in the City. The 
snake in the grass is jealousy of power. Sir Gilbert 
is your mortal enemy, and will omit no opportunity 
to affront you/' It was Heathcote and his party 
who ultimately succeeded in bringing Pitt's Governor- 
ship to an untimely end. 

1 Dropmore i. 14. 2 Dropmore i. 31. 


But although it is easy to understand that Pitt 
and Heathcote may have fallen out with one another 
at this stage. of their careers, it must have beeu 
something more than mere personal animosity that 
induced the former to accept the Governorship of 
Madras. He was now well on in middle age. He 
knew how fatal a climate India was then to Euro- 
peans. He had ample means, a safe seat in Parlia- 
ment, and two country estates, to each of which 
he was much attached. Writing to his son Robert 
some years after this, he gives as one of his reasons 
for going out to India again, his desire to benefit 
his children and to found a county family. " What 
have I fateagued for 1 /' he writes, " after this manner, 
and lived soe many years in exile from my country 
and friends (I had enough to subsist on, and that 
very handsomely too) but to make my children 
easy in their circumstances and mee happy in their 
company ; and having by God's blessing acquired 
such a competency as I never expected or could 
hope for soe as I should have been able to establish 
a family as considerable as any of the name except 
our kinsman G. P." (George Pitt of Strathfieldsay), 
" and now to have all blasted by an infamous wife 
and children. It is such a shock as man never 
mett with." It is quite likely that one of his 
ambitions was to found a county family. But in 
writing for the purpose of upbraiding his eldest son, 
who would be the head of such a family, for the 
part he had taken in the family quarrels/ his father 
may well have been inclined to lay greater stress 
on this motive than the facts of the case may have 
strictly warranted. To enable him to found a county 
family, it can hardly have been necessary for him 
to go out to India at this juncture. Now that the 
Company's monopoly was gone, he might probably, 

1 Dropmore i. 23. 

vii] FORT ST GEORGE 109 

with his knowledge and experience of the Eastern 
trade, have made as much money and as quickly 
in comfort and security at home as he was likely 
to make as Governor of Fort St George. The 
motives of men who have come to momentous 
decisions at critical stages of their lives have usually 
been composite, made up of a variety of impulses, 
good, bad and indifferent. Is it unreasonable to 
suspect that one of the impulses by which Pitt was 
actuated on this occasion was patriotism ? It is 
clear from many incidents in his career, and many 
passages in his correspondence, that he was a true 
patriot, proud of his country, jealous of her interests 
and honour, and willing to spend himself in her 
service. The fortunes of his country in India were 
at this time very seriously imperilled bv the disas- 
trous mistakes of the Court of the Company. The 
English in India, as he had lately seen, were in 
imminent danger of losing their last precarious 
foothold in Bengal ; and if on his return to London 
he found the Dowgate Association committed to 
what would of necessity be an internecine conflict 
between the few remaining English settlements in 
the East, and a fresh influx of inexperienced and 
bigoted rivals, he may well have made up his mind 
to do his utmost to avert the inevitable consequences 
of such an infatuated policy. He himself was a 
strong man, confident of his own powers, and he 
had never yet failed in his Indian ventures. Is it 
not fair to him to suggest that much the same 
thought may have occurred to him as that to which 
his famous grandson gave utterance in after years, 
" I know my country can be saved, and that I alone 
can save her " ? If he thought so, he was not very 
far wrong. 

Whatever may have been the motives which led 
him to accept the post, he was unanimously elected by 


the Court of the Company, on the 24th of November 
1697, Governor of Fort St George, to succeed Mr 
Nathaniel Higginson, who in accordance with his 
own request was permitted to retire from the 
Governorship, and to take the second place on the 
Council of the Fort. The fact that the Court were 
unanimous on this occasion is significant, the more 
so as Sir Josiah Child, the late Governor of the 
Company, who had dominated his colleagues for so 
many years, and had but lately retired in favour 
of his kinsman, Sir Thomas Cook, must have been 
known by the latter to be strongly opposed to Pitt's 
election. Child has left on record his disapproval 
of the Court's action on this occasion in a very 
characteristic letter addressed to a friend from his 
stately mansion at Wanstead, in which whilst pro- 
claiming his belief in the blamelessness during his 
long rule of every member of the Company, whose 
corrupt practices had been so recently exposed in 
Parliament, he expresses his pious horror that since 
he had left them, they should have fallen so far 
from their original righteousness as to take into 
their service so rude and immoral a man as Pitt. 
"I cannot say 1 /' he writes, "no member of the 
Company ever committed any fault, but I protest 
and must do to my death, that I do not yet know 
any one fault or mistake in their conduct that the 
Company ever committed during the late reigns. 
The worst I ever knew them to do was lately in the 
sending of that rpughling immoral man Mr 
to India last year, which everybody knows I was 
always against, and the adventurers resented it to 
such a degree as to turn out eighteen of that Com- 
mittee whereas I never knew before more than 
eight removed." It would be difficult to find two 
men likely to be more repugnant to one another 

1 Hedges i. 35. 


than Child and Pitt. The former, a subtle, smug, 
self-seeking and self-righteous London speculator, 
versed in every trick of the stock jobbing trade, piti- 
less of the many victims whose ruin had made him 
the richest man of his day, professing in all his actions 
to be animated by the highest possible motives, 
with an undisguised hatred and contempt, not only 
of Parliament and the law of the land, but of 
any constituted authority that stood in the way of 
his money-getting schemes. He had peremptorily 
ordered one of the Company's officials in India to 
obey his mandates whether or not in so doing he 
was breaking the laws of England, which he said 
' were a heap of nonsense, compiled by a few 
ignorant country gentlemen, who knew nothing of 
commerce and companies/' To this despised body 
of men Pitt belonged, being not only a country 
gentleman, but also a late member of Parliament. 
But what must have been far worse in Child's eyes, 
he was also a rough-tongued old sea captain, who 
had triumphed over Child's futile efforts to defeat 
his interloping expeditions, and was only too well 
acquainted with Child's antecedents and the recent 
disasters and discredit which he had brought on the 
Company and the English trade in India. Nor is 
it likely that he had refrained from expressing his 
views with respect to them in language which must 
have seemed to Child little short of' blasphemy. 
It is not therefore surprising that he should have 
been denounced by Child as a " roughling immoral 
man," or that Child should have been displeased 
with those members of the Court who had dared 
to appoint such a man to the most important of 
their posts in India. That Pitt was rough in his 
manners and methods is indisputable. But that in 
point of morality he compared unfavourably with 
Child may well be doubted. The sanctimonious are 


only too prone to impute immorality to their op- 
ponents. It is perhaps to be regretted that Pitt 
has not left on record in his own simple and forcible 
words his opinion of Child's morality. We shall 
probably not be wrong in disregarding Child's 
opinion of his, except so far as it can be supported 
by some less questionable testimony. 

Pitt's commission was dated the 5th of January 
1698 l . It appointed him President for the Company's 
affairs on the Coast of Coromandel and Orissa, and 
of the Gingee and Mahratta countries and Governor 
of Fort St George and Fort St David, a subordinate 
settlement lately founded by the Company on the 
Coast of Coromandel in the vicinity of Pondicherry, 
some hundred miles south of Fort St George. It had 
already been fortified, and was destined in another 
half century to play a prominent part in the struggle 
for supremacy in India between England and 
France. His salary and allowance were the same 
as those of his predecessors, 200 and 100 a year. 
The only further sum allowed him seems to have 
been 100 for fresh provisions on his voyage. The 
instructions accompanying his commission gave him 
special powers to suspend any of his Council at the 
Fort ab officio et beneficio, if he should find just 
cause for doing so, provided that he did not reduce 
the numbers of the Council below five, excluding 
himself. This power did not extend to the Bengal 
Council. The latter were however enjoined in a 
letter from the Court of the 26th of January 1698, 
to correspond with the Fort on all occasions, " and 
especially on what may relate to the defeating of 
Interlopers, wherein," the Court say, "we think 
our President's advice may be helpful to you, he 
having engaged to Us to signalise himself therein." 
Eyre, who was still Chief of the Bengal Council 

1 Hedges 3. 34, 35. 


iust have opened his eyes when he got this letter 
it Chuttannuttee, informing him that his old an- 
'onist, whom he had done his best to get hung 
>y Ibrahim Khan as a pirate, was now his official 
iperior, and likely to be helpful in the suppression 
>f the interloping trade. 

An important concession allowed to the Governor 
by the Company permitted his son Robert to go out 
with him and to reside at Fort St George as a free 
merchant. The list of personal effects which he 
was himself permitted to ship on board the vessel 
that took him and his son out was as follows : 
" 52 chests of wine, 4 chests of Nottingham ale, 
21 Hampers, 5 cases of pickles, one little box and 
six pictures/' The one little box bears, it will be 
observed, much the same proportion to the wine, 
ale and pickles that the halfpenny worth of bread 
in FalstafFs tavern bill did to the sack and an- 
chovies. Pitt seems throughout his life to have 
been fond of good living, a weakness which it is 
to be feared was shared by the great majority 
of his contemporaries, and probably shortened 
many of their lives and tempers. Twenty years 
before this in one of his earliest letters to Edwards 
from Kasimbazar, he had written, " Here is a 
general complaint that we drink a damnable deale 
of wine this yeare." He has left on record that 
during his residence in London he kept a good 
table, '" as good wine as the world afforded and 
plenty/' The Court were apparently aware of his 
tastes in this direction, for on hearing from him 
that on his arrival at Fort St George he had paid 
the customs duties on his goods, they wrote to him 
on the 2ist of November, 1699, expressing their 
approval of his setting so excellent an example to 
those under him, and added 1 , " for making so good 

1 Hedges 3. 37. 
D. 8 


a Precedent we have ordered a Tun of the best 
Sherry to be laden for your accompt on board the 
King William, now proceeding to Cadiz to take in 
her bullion." In the following year he writes to his 
friend Sir Henry Johnson thanking him for another 
" noble present of a Butt of Sherry 1 /' His corre- 
spondence teems with references to his strong 
drinks. In the postscript to another letter of thanks 
to Sir Henry Johnson he says : " The old proverb is 
that one should not look a gift horse in the mouth ; 
butt being told that Major Noble putt up the chest 
of wine you sent me, which came out noe more 
than 2 doz. 5 bottles, and that too had lost its 
colour and tast, notwithstanding which I am never 
the lesse oblidged to you, and heartily thank you 
for it." Similar mishaps seem to have occurred 
more than once, when his son Robert in accordance 
with his directions sent him out wine and ale. For 
example, his father writes to him on one occasion : 
" Send me out two chests of Canary, the very best, 
as many of Nottingham ale drawn off very fine, 
and ten chests of the best French wine 2 ." On 
receipt of what was sent him out in response to 
this, he says 3 : " The Florence wine very good, but 
not above 4 or 5 dozen in each " (chest). " Mr. 
Shepherd's servants being such villains that it partly 
run out for want of good corks. The Canary is 
excellent good, well corked and packd, and that 
which you call French wine most of it is port, and 
for the ale and beer all spoilt, not one dropp fit for 
any use. This is the effect of your great care for 
my necessarys. I here write you a little, but think 
the more." The quantity of liquor sent out for 
his use appears to have been so considerable that 
at last the Company took to charging him for its 

1 Hedges 3. 64, 65. 2 Dropmore i. 32. 

8 Hedges 3. 115. 

vii] ' FORT ST GEORGE 115 

freight, a grievance which he seems to have felt 
keenly, if we may judge from one letter to a friend, 
in which he couples it with their putting spies into 
his Council 1 " and other little sneaking tricks/' 
which he says will confirm him in his resolution of 
coming home at once. Writing to his son, some 
time after this he says : " Send no more wine than 
what the Company will permit to come out freight 
free ; and none of your mixed stuff but all that is 
red, let it be true Claret or Florence ; for I would 
not be destitute of a little liquor, if detained here/' 
That he was grateful for choice liquors when he 
could get them is evidenced by his sending a diamond 
ring towards the end of his Governorship to Lord 
Scarborough, who, he says 2 , " has been very generous 
in sending me the best liquors I have had from 
England/' After his return home, he took care 
when travelling to take his own wine with him. 
To the end he seems to have lived freely. Some 
six weeks before his death in 1726, Sir Thomas 
Hardy writing from Pall Mall says of him 3 , " I went 
to dine with him. The old gentleman breaks fast ; 
and complains much of want of stomach, but eats 
more than I can do/' 

He seems, as he usually had done on previous 
occasions to have made a good voyage out ; for he 
reached Fort St George with his son Robert on the 
7th of July 1698, bringing with him the first news 
of the signing of the Peace of Ryswick, which had 
been concluded in the previous September. On the 
nth of July, the following entry occurs in the 
Consultation Book of his Council 4 : "Resolved that 
tomorrow morning at eleven o'clock the Proclama- 
tion of the Peace between England and France be 
read with the usual Solemnity at the inner Fort 

1 Hedges 3. 97- 2 Dropmore i. 34. 

3 Dropmore i. 76. * Wheeler i. 338. 



Gates, and afterwards at all the Gates of the City. 
And that the Honble Company's Commission ap- 
pointing the Honble Thomas Pitt Esquire President 
be read at the New Garden after dinner, all the 
Right Honble Company's servants and freemen 
being invited to a treat there by the Governor/' 
Amongst the earliest matters into which he had 
as Governor to inquire were certain differences 
which had arisen between his predecessor, Mr 
Higginson, and Mr William Eraser and Mr Roger 
Braddyl, both of whom had been members of the 
Council of the Fort, but were under suspension on 
Pitt's arrival 1 . Higginson was in the opinion of 
Mr Talboys Wheeler, the author of Madras in the 
Olden Time, the first Governor of the Fort who 
seems to have retired from the Presidency without 
a stain upon his name 2 . Pitt had now to decide 
whether he would confirm Higginson 's suspensions 
of Fraser and Braddyl or give the two men another 
chance. He ultimately reinstated them both. An 
unsigned paper, without date or signature, but 
partly in his handwriting is extant, which seems 
to be the draft of a report on the result of his in- 
vestigation of the matters in dispute between Fraser 
and Higginson 3 . So far as can be gathered from 
this document, he seems to have come to the con- 
clusion that Fraser had been censured unnecessarily 
on one or two occasions, and that the questions in 
dispute " had much better be buried in oblivion 
than raked into " ; and he expresses the hope that 
" what has been done by our predecessors will be 
amended by ourselves, and that what time has been 
spent in quarrelling and ruining one another will 
be spent in improving the Company's revenues, 
lessening their charges and sending home full ships 

1 Vestiges of Old Madras, i. 554, and n. 66. 

2 Wheeler i. 335. 9 Dropmore i. i, 2. 




in season." His decision was an unfortunate one. 
Higginson, who had intended to stay on at Fort 
St George, as second in command, refused to sit on 
the same Council with Fraser ; and returned to 
England with his family in the following February. 
If Pitt had been better acquainted with the char- 
acters of Fraser and Braddyl, or foreseen the trouble 
they were both destined to give him, he would 
certainly have thought twice before reinstating 
them. For he very soon found himself compelled 
to send Braddyl home to England for insubordina- 
tion, and Fraser was an impossible colleague to get 
on with. He had been a thorn in the side not only 
of Higginson, but of his predecessor Elihu Yale ; 
and it was his machinations which brought about 
the unfortunate incidents seized upon by the Court 
as a ground for Pitt's recall some eleven years 



To help us to understand the life and sur- 
roundings of Governor Pitt during the next eleven 
years, the most important of his career, some account 
is necessary of the place in which he was practically 
confined for the whole of that time. 

Fort St George is thus graphically described by 
Hamilton in his New Account of the East Indies. 
''It is situated in one of the most inconvenient 
places I ever saw. It faces the sea, which con- 
tinually rolls upon its shore, more here than in any 
other place on the Coast of Chormandel " (Coro- 
mandel). ' The foundation is in sand, with a river 
on its back side, which obstructs all springs of fresh 
water coming near the town, so that they have no 
drinkable water within a mile of them, the sea often 
threatening destruction on one side, and the river 
in the rainy season on the other ; the sun from 
April to September scorchingly hot ; and if the sea 
breezes did not moisten and cool the air, when they 
blow, the place could not possibly be inhabited. 
The soil near the city is so dry and sandy, that it 
bears no corn, and what fruits, roots and herbage 
they have are brought to maturity with great pains 
and trouble/' 

This melancholy description seems to have been 
only too true. The place had no harbour, or shelter 
of any kind for ships 1 . To quote the words of a later 

1 Malleson 140 142. 




writer, " Situated on a bluff of the coast where the 
current was always rapid, and exposed to all the 
violence of the monsoon and the inconvenience of 
the surf, which made navigation for English boats 
impossible, it would have been difficult to find a 
position less adapted for commercial purposes. The 
roadstead was dangerous during some months of 
the year, especially from October to January so that 
on the appearance of anything approaching a gale 
during those months, vessels were forced to slip 
their anchors and run out to sea/' It appears from 
an entry in the Consultation Book of the Fort dated 
the Qth of October 1687, that seamen had been 
taught by bitter experience the necessity of doing this. 
The entry in question is as follows 1 , " The monsoon 
breaking up sooner this year than is expected or 
usual, there happened great damage to the ships 
and vessels in these roads. It began on Tuesday 
the 4th instant, when there ran a great sea and 
surf all day, and in the afternoon a flurry of wind 
and rain. On Wednesday, the same great sea and 
surf continued, and a flurry of wind and rain in the 
afternoon. On Thursday the wind blew, ships were 
drawn from their anchors, and some were forced on 
shore. On Friday a very great storm of wind and 
rain all day. Saturday the wind blowing very hard all 
night forced the ' Loyal Adventure ' and the ' Borneo 
Merchant ' from their anchors, the former being found 
this morning broke to pieces at St Thomas' Point, 
the latter a little to the Southward." Nearly half a 
century later, in the autumn of 1746, the French fleet 
under la Bourdonnais, after capturing the Fort had a 
still more disastrous experience 2 . The i3th of October 
was a lovely day, one of the finest of the season, 
but during the night a hurricane arose ; and on the 
1 7th, of the eight French men of war that were 

1 Wheeler i. 179. 2 Malleson 175* 


anchored in the roads, four had been lost, two 
rendered utterly unseaworthy, and the remaining 
two were so damaged as to require almost super- 
human exertion to fit them for sea. The fleet had 
in fact suddenly ceased to exist : and the loss in 
life alone had exceeded 1200. 

Intolerable as the sea was for shipping when the 
cool weather began, still more so was the land for 
Europeans at other seasons. During the first year 
of his Governorship, Pitt suffered severely. Writing 
in November 1699, he says 1 , " In May last I was 
Seiz'd with a Violent feaver, and Convulsions from 
head to foot, which gave me a kind of pallsey in my 
limbs, that sometimes I was not able to write or 
hold a glass of wine. I made a shift to put the 
best Side out, when the Men of Warr were here, but 
lay by it afterwards. But since the Northerly 
Winds came in, I find it much better, but am still 
troubled with a Violent heat, which seems to be 
in the bones. If the hot winds next year be Soe 
Violent as they were this last, 'twill sweep most of 
us away. The Bengali or Persia ay ire agrees much 
better with me than this/' 

In dealing with the unpromising soil of the 
settlement, Pitt had ample scope for indulging in 
his hobby for forestry and gardening ; and he seems 
to have been at great pains to grow vegetables and 
fruit there. Writing to Beard in Bengal in January 
17032, he says, " I should be extremely obliged to 
you if you wd. send me by all conveyances good 
store of garden seeds, such as pease, beans, turnips, 
cabages, water melons, &c. ; and they must be new 
and the best way of putting them up is in bottles. 
The Armenian on the ' Johanna ' sent me a few, which 
believe he had in Patna, which proved very good." 
About the same time he writes to Samuel Ongley, 

1 Hedges 3. 49. 2 Wilson i. 372. 




an old friend of his on the Court of the Company 
in London, " My liesure time I generally spend in 
gardening and planting and making such improve- 
ments as I hope will tend to the Compa/s advantage 
and the good of the whole place, for that in a little 
time I hope the place will be able to subsist without 
much dependance from the country, for that in the 
long siege wee were not a little pinched for pro- 

Hamilton in his account of the earlier history 
of the settlement is not so accurate as in his descrip- 
tion of the place itself, with which he must have 
been well acquainted, having at one time been 
a householder there 1 . As is his wont when in lack 
of actual knowledge, he enlivens his history with 
a scandalous story. ' The reason why a fort/' he 
says, " was built in that place is not easy to account 
for ; but the tradition is that the gentleman, who 
received his orders to build it, chose that place to 
ruin the Portuguese trade at St Thomas. Others 
again allege with more probability that the gentleman 
aforesaid, whom I take to be Sir William Langhorn, 
had a mistress at St Thomas he was enamoured of, 
that made him build there that their interviews 
might be more frequent and uninterrupted/' 

As a matter of fact, the fort was built in 1639 
by a Mr Day, some 30 years before Sir William 
Langhorne became Governor. Mr Day was a member 
of the Council at Masulipatam, from which place it 
was found necessary to move the headquarters of 
the Company on the Coast of Coromandel, in conse- 
quence of the exactions of a local rajah. The site 
was selected for want of a better one, owing to its 
proximity to the Portuguese settlement at St Thomas, 
better known as St Thome after its capture by the 
French. Day's object was not to ruin the trade of 

1 Mrs Frank Penny's History of Fort St George, p. 88. 


the Portuguese, but to obtain their assistance in 
making head against their common enemy, the 
Dutch, who had recently ousted the English and 
other Europeans from the Spice Islands and were 
suspected not without reason of entertaining similar 
designs against the English and Portuguese settlers 
on the eastern coast of India. Mr Day succeeded 
in obtaining from a native chief in the neighbourhood 
the grant of a tract of land, stretching some five 
or six miles along the shore and one mile inland, 
with its front to the sea and a river to its rear, as 
described by Hamilton. On the southern end of 
this narrow strip of territory he enclosed a plot of 
land about 400 yards long and 100 yards wide with 
an embrasured wall, inside which he built the 
original fort and a factory. So far from having 
been ordered by the Company to build the fort, he 
was sharply taken to task by them for doing so ; 
for the Court regarded it as a very hazardous experi- 
ment. In 1648 they summoned one of Day's sub- 
ordinates, who was then in England, before them 
" to answer the charge of building Fort St George " ; 
and after hearing him, determined that if it should 
not prove advantageous, Mr Day should be charged 
with the cost of the fortifications which had amounted 
to 2294. It proved, however, a greater success than 
had been anticipated, owing to its favourable position 
for obtaining coast goods, and to the great encourage- 
ment which the settlement had received from the 
natives and the Portuguese at St Thomas. In 1653 
t attained the rank of a Presidency ; and from that 
time forward became the chief establishment of the 
Company on the Coast of Coromandel. The walled 
enclosure within which the factory had been built 
was laid out in streets and alleys ; and as Europeans 
only were allowed to live in it, became known for 
many generations as White Town. To the north 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 123 

of it a larger quarter sprang up, occupied at first 
by a rapidly increasing number of natives and called 
by way of distinction Black Town, into which the 
European population overflowed when it became too 
large for accommodation in White Town. To the 
south rose a smaller village, chiefly inhabited by 
weavers and other natives in the employment of 
the factory. Inland in proximity to the Fort were 
four smaller villages, Triplicane, Nunquinbancum, 
Egmore and Persewankum. Almost adjoining the 
extremity of the Company's territory on the south, 
and about four miles from the Fort, was the Portu- 
guese settlement of St Thome. 

From the first the tenure of Fort St George by 
the Company had been precarious ; and the settle- 
ment could not have been retained for them but 
for its fortifications such as they were to the 
building of which the Court had taken such strong 
objection. These were repaired and strengthened 
from time to time by successive Governors, who not 
unnaturally were more keenly alive to the necessity 
of protecting the goods and lives of the Europeans 
committed to their charge than their masters at 
home were. Sir William Langhorne, who was 
Governor from 1670 to 1679, an< ^ whose morality 
is so undeservedly called in question by Hamilton, 
was twice placed in a very awkward position, first 
when the French, who were then allies of the English, 
occupied St Thome, the settlers of which had been 
of such service to the English in the earlier days of 
the Presidency, and secondly when at a time when 
the English were at war with the Dutch, a Mussulman 
force acting in concert with the Dutch, invested and 
took St Thome. The Dutch ceded St Thome, when 
captured, to the local Nawab, and would no doubt 
have proceeded to make short work of Fort St 
George, had not news very opportunely arrived of 


the conclusion of peace between England and 
Holland. Sir Streynsham Master, Governor of the 
Fort from 1679 to 1681, a capable, honest and reso- 
lute man, who prior to his appointment had greatly 
distinguished himself by his gallant defence of the 
Company's factory at Surat against Sivaji, prudently 
improved the defences of the settlement, and suc- 
cessfully repulsed the attacks of a large body of 
Mahrattas who had blockaded it and had reduced 
the garrison to the verge of starvation. With great 
difficulty he saved the situation by a series of bold 
and skilfully devised sorties, by means of which he 
managed to bring in goods and provisions by force 
from the besiegers. He obtained no credit from the 
Company for these exploits. On the contrary he 
was severely reprimanded, and admonished that the 
safety of the factory depended not on the strength 
of its fortifications, but on the firmans which it was 
his duty to obtain from the native rulers ; a favourite 
theory at that time of Sir Josiah Child, the absurdity 
of which was shortly afterwards demonstrated, when 
he persuaded the Company with ludicrously inade- 
quate forces and a hopelessly incompetent com- 
mander to enter on their disastrous war against 
the Mogul. On venturing to remonstrate and to 
press for certain reforms, some of which were after- 
wards adopted by Child, Master, whose main offence 
seems to have been that he was a gentleman, which 
Jiild was not, was not only superseded but ordered 
to come home at once by the first ship that left 
the coast that season, without being allowed the 
customary interval allowed to superseded Governors 
to get in the moneys owing to them from the native 
merchants. He returned to England in disgrace, 
an object lesson to his successors of the consequences 
of subordinating his own interests to those of his 
employers. During Pitt's Presidency he was still 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 125 

fruitlessly trying to get back from India some of 
the debts owing to him. The rancour and self- 
complacency of Child, when dealing with those who 
presumed to differ from him, are well exemplified 
in the letter which he addressed to the Council of 
the Fort on this occasion. " By the Sampson/' he 
writes 1 , " we received our late Agent Master and 
CounceH's letters of the I3th of September and 
2Oth December, in which he followeth his old straine 
of errours, pride and offence, which we shall not 
further endeavour to confute or convince him of, but 
leave him now at his greater leasure, freed from the 
Temptation and encumbrance of that greatness and 
immensitie of gaine, which our Bounty had confer'd 
upon him, to recollect himselt and consider whether 
he did well or wisely for himself or honestly by us." 
Five years later the Company had begun their 
war with the Mogul, and within a few months every 
one of their factories in Bengal had been seized or 
abandoned, while such of their servants as had not 
perished or fallen into the enemy's hands were 
brought with Charnock for refuge to Fort St George, 
the only place where they could hope for safety, 
until the conclusion of an ignominious peace. Elihu 
Yale, the benefactor of Yale University, was then 
Governor of the Fort. It might have been thought 
that now at any rate, whilst the war was still waging, 
and the enemy almost at his gates, the Governor 
would have been justified in the eyes of the Company 
in strengthening the defences of their principal 
settlement, which he did by surrounding Black 
Town with a ditch and an entrenchment 2 . But he 
got into great difficulty afterwards for so doing, and 
was called upon to pay the whole of the cost himself. 
Mr William Fraser, whose official role seems always 
to have been to thwart and irritate the Governor 

1 Hedges 2. 247. z Wheeler i. 219. 


for the time being, had, it appears, only consented 
to the work being carried out on the condition that 
" the Honrable Company be not at any sixpence 
charge thereon/' and the consent of another member 
of the Council had also been conditional on the 
promise of the Governor to reimburse the Company 
if they disapproved of the work. Sir John Golds- 
borough, who had come out from England as Com- 
missary General mainly for the purpose of settling 
certain differences that had arisen between Yale and 
his Council, gave his decision against the Governor 
on this point 1 . ' The Commissary General/' to 
quote from the Consultation Book, " finding the mud 
Points and Walls about the Black Town cost several 
thousand Pagodas, and that Governor Yale had 
made them at the Right Honble Company's charge 
against their positive order and most of the Council's 
express exceptions, did desire Judge Dolben to make 
demand of President Yale for three thousand five 
hundred and eighty-three Pagodas with interest, 
being the cost of them and a Physic Garden." 
Fortunately for himself, Yale was a very rich man, 
and cannot have been personally much inconveni- 
enced by this iniquitous decision, which Dolben 
declined to endorse on the ground that the Company's 
claims were barred by the Statute of Limitations. 
But Yale's treatment on this occasion is an example 
of the risks any Governor ran, who during Child's 
regime dared to do his duty as President in an 
emergency, without waiting for the Company's 
sanction, which in those days it must have taken 
considerably more than a twelvemonth to obtain. 

Some years before Pitt became Governor, the 
native population of the Presidency was estimated 
to have risen to 300,000. During Yale's Presidency 
the Armenians had been encouraged to settle there 

1 Wheeler i. 267. 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 127 

under an agreement with the Company in 1688, 
which gave them equal privileges with English 
merchants. We have no record of their numbers ; 
but their advent must have materially increased 
the trade of the town. The English population was 
comparatively very small. Exclusive of the garrison, 
it was considerably under 200 at the end of 1699 1 . 
The males were of three classes, 30 servants of the 
Company, 35 free merchants, and 38 seafaring men 
not constant inhabitants of the town. With the 
two latter classes, Pitt was probably in closer touch 
than any previous Governor had been, having 
himself risen from their ranks. Of the English 
ladies in the settlement 14 were widows, 10 single 
young women and 22 wives of Englishmen. The 
death rate of the men was so high that the ranks 
of the widows were constantly being recruited. The 
wealthier ones seem to have been much in request ; 
but the poorer, even when good looking, must often 
have had a bad time, if we may judge from a letter 
to Pitt from one of his staff who, disappointed in 
his suit for a rich widow, writes to the Governor 
thus 2 : " To misse a rich widdow, tolarablie handsome 
and not verry old is in my opinion a much greater 
misfortune than to lose halfe a dozen other mis- 
tresses, though in their prime of youth and beauty, 
if without money, which some whether wise or 
otherwise run mad for the loss of. I find there is 
no coming in for a rich widdow in Maddaras without 
securing the reversion some years before their hus- 
bands' death, therefore thinke had better bespeake 
the present widdow against her becoming soe a second 
time, thereby to anticipate other pretenders." He 
adds with reference to a suggestion which seems to 
have emanated from Governor Pitt, who appears 
to have been rather fond of matchmaking, " You 

1 Wheeler i. 356. z Dropmore i. 4. 


are pleased to commend one Mrs Middleton for 
a pritty woman and who you believe will make an 
excellent wife. I cannot doubt but your experienced 
judgment therein must be sound as on other more 
weightie affaires/' But he respectfully declines to 
accept the proposition, unless his position can be 
improved. " Should think myself e extreamely happy 
in such a wife/' he writes, " but cannot in conscience 
endeavour to compasse it by making the lady miser- 
able. Were I thought worthy to have the title 
Deputy Governor conferred on me by your Honour 
should readily become a suitor to the good lady to 
compleat my happiness in this worlde." 

In another letter a young lady stationed at Fort 
St David thanks Pitt for his efforts on her behalf. 
" The gentlemen 1 /' she tells him, " are pretty civil 
to me now, but I can attribute that to nothing but 
your Honour's goodness in making them soe. I now 
make bold to acquaint your Honour that I have 
some thoughts of marreing Captain Greenhaugh, if 
your Honour shall approve, ,but not else. Indeed 
the only reason that endusees me to it is I formerly 
made him a kind of promise, though after which 
with my own free consent, it was quite as I thought 
broke off by my brother : but he has now again so 
importunately renued his courtship that I know not 
how to be rid of him. Another reason is that I may 
be freed from the courtship of some others in this 
place, which I think wod be but as indifferent 
matches as the other. Could I have got home to 
England, I wod not have staid here for the best 
husband in India." It is to be feared that this 
last sentiment was shared by many an exiled lady 
in those days. 

The garrison of the Fort had been reduced at 
the conclusion of the war with the Mogul. The 

1 Dropmore i. 10. 

[ii] FORT ST GEORGE 129 

following extract from a letter of the Court, dated 
the 22nd of January 1692, will give some idea of its 
composition 1 . ' We being now in full peace would 
have but two full Companies of soldiers maintained 
here, besides what inferior force you may think fit 
to raise of Cofferies 2 ; and in those two Companies 
we would be at no further charge of Officers, but 
only of Lieutenants and Ensigns, Sarjants and 
Corporals, Captains being needless in times of peace. 
But you may entertain an aid Major, who is to 
have no Company, but to superintend over all our 
officers and soldiers under the Command of our 
Commissary General when he is present, and under 
our President when our Commissary General is 
absent. This is the Dutch method in all their 
garrisons in India, and it is the best that can be 
invented in peaceable times. Our aid Major, Captain 
Hilton at Bombay, hath four shillings a day, besides 
twenty shillings a month as aid Major ; and that 
we resolve shall be his standing pay, and the standing 
pay of all aid Majors in India in every garrison, 
where there is need of such officers. 

" But we would have you by all means to keep 
on foot your Troop of Volunteer horse, and to 
increase the number of them under the immediate 
command of our President ; and our Artillery 
Company of all the Company's English servants 
under the command of Captain Thomas Gray. And 
sometimes for recreation we would have you to 
exercise both horse and foot in the field, that the 
men may be perfect in the use of their arms, and 
the horses be used to abide the sound of Drums, 

1 Wheeler i. 250. 

2 I.e, Kaffirs. Natives. Black native slaves imported from 
Madagascar, who are stated in a letter from the Court to Fort St 
David to be " the truest People and the stoutest Blacks you could 
trust to, having no affinity or Relation to the black people in those 
countreys nor speaking any of their Languages." Hedges 2. 356. 




Trumpets and report of Guns, without starting. 
Being always in a posture of defence is a sure way 
to preserve your peace and draw esteem and report, 
honour and obedience from the natives with little 
or no charge to the Company/' 

In times of need this slender force could be 
supplemented, as will be seen, by a Marine Company 
of seamen landed from any ships from England that 
might be in the roads ; by trainbands from Black 
Town commanded by European officers ; and by 
a Company formed out of the Portuguese inhabitants 
of the settlement. But it compared in numbers 
very unfavourably with the Dutch garrison at 
Batavia which consisted of 3000 European soldiers 1 . 

Every servant of the Company had a right to 
free quarters in the Fort, with lights, attendants 
and various subsistence allowances. None of them 
might live outside the Fort without special leave. 
Their lives within it were regulated on much the 
same lines as those of students in colleges in England. 
From the highest to the lowest they were required 
to attend daily the hearing of morning and evening 
prayers and to listen every Sunday to two sermons 
at the Church of St Mary's, which had been com- 
pleted in 1680 during the Presidency of Streynsham 
Master, and which still remains an interesting ex- 
ample of seventeenth century architecture. It is thus 
described by Lockyer, who visited the Fort during 
Pitt's Presidency 2 . ' The Church is a large pile of 
arched building with curious carved work, a stately 
altar, organ, a white copper candlestick, very large 
windows which render it inferior to the Churches 
in London in nothing but bells, there being one 
only, to mind sinners of devotion, though I have 
heard a contribution for a set was formerly remitted 
the Company." It still contains a massive silver 

1 Dropmore 1.3. 2 Lockyer p. 18. 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 131 

alms-dish given by Governor Yale, and a silver font 
basin and flagon presented in memory of Lady 
Goldsborough in 1689 besides many other interesting 
mementoes of early Anglo-Indian celebrities. Here 
the servants of the Company sat in the pews assigned 
to them in order of their rank. The Governor's 
was in the gallery, the access to which, still in 
existence, was outside the Church. His entrance 
was a solemn function, passing as he did through 
two lines of soldiers drawn up from the inner fort 
to the Church door in his honour 1 . On his approach 
the organ struck up and continued to play until he 
was seated 2 . A special sitting had been constructed, 
shortly before Pitt came out, for the Mayor under 
the Clerk's desk, where his two silver gilt maces 
could be conveniently displayed on either side of 
him. Behind were the Aldermen in their scarlet 
serge robes and the burgesses in white china silk 

Thomas Pitt throughout his stay at Fort St 
George seems to have kept up a considerable amount 
of state. Lockyer says of him 3 "He seldom goes 
abroad with less than three or four score Peons 
arm'd, besides his English guards to protect him. 
He has two Union flags carry'd before him and 
Country Musick enough to frighten a stranger into 
a Belief the men were mad. Two Dabashes attend 
to cool him with Fans and drive away the Flies 
that would otherwise molest him. He is a Man of 
great Parts, respected as a Prince by the Rajas of 
the Country, and is in every respect as great : save 
those are for themselves, this has Masters/' " During 
the hot Winds, he retires to the Companys new 
Garden for Refreshment which he has made a very 
delightful place of a barren one : Its costly Gates, 

1 Lockyer p. 19. * Wheeler i. 266. 

3 Lockyer p. 24. 



lovely Bowling Green, spacious Walks, Teal-pond, 
and ^Curiosities preserved in several Divisions are 
worthy to be admired 1 /' ' The Governour's Lodging 
takes up about a third part of the inner Fort, is 
three stories high, and has many commodious apart- 
ments in it : Two or three of the Council have their 
Rooms there, as well as several inferiour Servants : 
The 'Countant's and Secretary's Offices are kept one 
Story up : but the Consultation-Room is higher, 
curiously adorn'd with Fire-arms, in several Figures, 
imitating those in the Armory of the Tower of 
London/' Here the Company's servants took their 
dinner at noon and their supper at the close of the 
day seated strictly in order of precedence. The 
Company's plate, which made its appearance on 
these occasions, was very old and battered when 
Pitt came to the Fort 2 . In 1703 it was melted down 
and valued at something less than 100. But Pitt 
had brought out with him a set of plate of his own, 
which after being used for some years at the general 
table, was taken over for the Company at a valuation 
when the older plate had been melted down. It 
weighed 2240 ounces. The metal was valued at 
706, and the fashioning of it at 65. It included 
06 silver plates, 12 dishes, and 7 covers, 4 large 
candlesticks, i Menteith, 2 large and 2 small salvers, 
I large salt, 6 small salts, 3 porringers, i teapot, 
i large ladle, 16 spoons and 6 forks. On grand 
occasions the more important pieces must have made 
quite a grand display. The meals were plentiful 
and prepared by Indian, Portuguese and English 
cooks. The junior members of the fraternity seem 
to have usually drunk Shiraz wine from Persia, and 
what is called in the records " bowl punch," which 
is stated by a contemporary writer 3 to have been 

1 Lockyer p. 22. 2 Wheeler 2. 16. 

8 Bernier, see Wilson i. 66. 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 133 

made of " arrack, black sugar, the juice of lemon, 
water, and a little muscardine squeezed upon it." 
' It is pleasant enough to the taste/' this gentleman 
adds, whose experience of it seems to have been 
much the same as that of Jos. Sedley at Vauxhall, 
" but the plague of body and health/' Its con- 
sumption was no doubt a contributory cause of the 
unseemly behaviour at the General table, the punish- 
ments for which are recorded from time to time in 
the Consultation Books. At the high table, the 
members of the Council and the higher officials 
indulged in European wines and beer, which were 
regarded as exceptional luxuries. 

The members of the Council met every Monday 
and Thursday morning in the Consultation Room 
and the result of their deliberations, together with 
any notable local occurrences, was entered by the 
Secretary in the Consultation Books provided for 
the, purpose. Copies of all entries in these books, 
which are still extant, were sent home regularly to 
the Company. They usually bear unmistakeable 
marks of the literary style of the Governor for the 
time being. On this account and because of the 
importance of some of the occurrences recorded in 
them, some of the entries in these books during 
the next few years are of exceptional interest. 

Taken as a whole the daily routine work of the 
servants of the Company at the Fort must have 
been terribly monotonous. After morning prayers 
till the dinner at noon, they were supposed to be 
engaged in their commercial avocations, the sale, 
purchase, sorting and examination of the Company's 
goods, the packing and unpacking and exposure of 
them for sale, the payment and receipt of moneys 
and the keeping of accounts. On ordinary occa- 
sions very little work seems to have been done after 
12 o'clock, except by such younger members of the 


staff as chose to learn the languages of the country, 
for proficiency in which they were rewarded by 
gratuities varying from 20 to 10. The rest of 
the day was left for such recreation as was obtainable. 
But the facilities for recreation must have been very 
limited. The gardens of the Company, their servants 
and the richer merchants of the place, shown in the 
survey of Fort St George made during the Governor- 
ship of Pitt, of which a copy has been reproduced 
for the purpose of the present work, were the 
main available recreation grounds. The most im- 
portant of these, the Company's garden, which Pitt 
so greatly improved, contained a building called the 
Garden House, in which entertainments were some- 
times held. Billiard tables had by this time found 
their way to India, and may possibly have been in 
the houses of some of the members of the Council 1 . 
Some of the Company's servants had horses to ride. 
But there were no pleasure-trips on the water such 
as seem to have been common in Bengal : nor 
could there have been many opportunities for sport. 
For it was not permissible to go far inland in pursuit 
of game. Except at times when the ships came in, 
or were being got ready for their return to Europe, 
or the Company's staff and the garrison were engaged 
in drill or military manoeuvres, time must have hung 
very heavily on their hands. Poor Clive, when he 
came out to the Fort years afterwards as a young 
writer, found his life there so intolerable, that he 
was led to attempt to put an end to it by suicide. 
The literature which the Company sent out for the 
library seems to have consisted mainly of books of 
Divinity, the value of which was estimated by 
Lockyer 2 to be 438. 65. od. In the circumstances 
it is not surprising that the officers of the garrison 

1 Wilson i. 141 ; Hedges 2. 92 and 3. 80. 

2 Lockyer p. 20. 

Prospect of Fort St George and Plan of the City of Madras 

From the engravii 

, g,' ' c TT _ 

urveyed inf Order 'qftJu late Gcnxrff. fho.'Pit 

ally Surveyed by Order of the Late Governor Tho. Pitt, Esq. 

n the Bodleian 

vni] FORT ST GEORGE 135 

were often quarrelling with one another, and that 
some of the civilians followed their example. The 
latter however were as a general rule kept on their 
good behaviour by the hope of some day making 
their fortunes. The officers had no such hopes as 
yet, nor indeed until some half-century later when 
Give had shown them how easy a business it was 
to enrich themselves with the hoarded treasures of 
vanquished native rulers. Their poor prospects at 
this time must have largely conduced to the drunken- 
ness and insubordination which are from time to 
time recorded against them in the Consultation 
Books. The most incorrigible of the officers in 
Pitt's day was Lieutenant Seaton, who was re- 
peatedly dismissed the service for quarrelling in 
his cups, and subsequently reinstated, because there 
was no one who could be trusted to take his place. 
For a similar reason, the surgeon, Dr Brown, who 
had been convicted for an assault on a native col- 
lector of customs 1 "having broken his face with 
a pistol/' pulled his beard and otherwise maltreated 
him, after " being committed to the custody of the 
Marshall that others might be deterr'd from the like, 
and that the inhabitants might understand that 
such practices were not allowed/' was within the 
week " discharged from his confinement, in con- 
sideration of his patients suffering for want of his 
assistance/' Unruly clerks and writers could be 
more easily spared and were sometimes promptly 
sent home by the next ship. One such case is thus 
recorded in the Consultation Book 2 . "Mr. Richard 
Pearson, writer, who came out on the Phoenix and 
immediately sent to Masulipatam, where he behaved 
himself very insolently to his superiors, for which 
they sent him hither in January last, where soon 
after he behaved himself very impudently to the 

1 Wheeler i. 301. * Wheeler 2. 15. 


Governor, who confined and punished him for it, 
and afterwards upon his submission and acknow- 
ledging his fault with promises of amendment, he 
was set at liberty, when a few days after he quarrelled 
at the Company's General Table, where he gave 
opprobrious language to several and blows to boot, 
so finding him an incorrigible and debauched fellow, 
and keeping him here may tend to the ruin of 
several of the young men in the Company's service, 
it is agreed that he be confined to the inward Fort, 
and sent for England by the first opportunity ; 
and that he be permitted to come no more to the 
Company's table, but that the Steward send him 
such provisions as the Governor directs/' Writing 
home of this young man to the Governor of the 
Company, Pitt says 1 : " You are pleas'd to give your 
reasons in your last letter for the reducing of your 
Trade, and yet at the same time you very much 
increase your charge, by sending out soe great 
a number of ffactors and writers, having here at 
this time three times as many as you have occasion 
for, besides some of 'em so refractory that I should 
as willingly see 'em return to their ffriends as I 
believe their ffriends were glad to get rid of 'em, 
more particularly one Person, who has lately been 
guilty of such a piece of insolence as is not to be 
parrellel'd, whom I have at this time under confine- 
ment and will severely punish him, tho' here it is 
an Imbib'd Notion in Some who ought to know 
better, that noe Servant of yours ought to have 
corporall punishment, which has been the mine of 
many a Youth in this place. Some others I could 
name who I hope are reclaim'd, and will make you 
good servants." 

The principal members of the Council, who 
assisted the Governor in the discharge of his onerous 

1 Hedges 3. 81. 

vin] FORT ST GEORGE 137 

and multifarious duties at Fort St George, taking 
them in order of their precedence, were 1 the Ac- 
countant or Bookkeeper, whose Department was 
responsible for the establishment and general com- 
mercial accounts of the settlement ; the Keeper of 
the Warehouses and Stores ; the Customer, who 
was the chief buyer of native merchandise ; the 
Collector of the rents and customs of the town and 
also a Justice of the Peace ; and lastly the Secretary, 
who attended all the meetings of the Council, kept 
the Consultation Books and was responsible for the 
official correspondence. Each of these had under 
him his staff of writers and apprentices. The 
Chaplain of the Fort ranked after the Accountant 
and the Surgeon after the Customer. The Chaplain's 
duties included the teaching of the children of the 
soldiers, and a schoolroom for the purpose was 
provided in White Town. Most of the mothers of 
the children taught in it were Portuguese women and 
Roman Catholics, whom at one time the soldiers 
were prohibited from marrying, a restriction which 
had very properly been removed by Streynsham 
Master during his Presidency 2 . His defence to the 
Court for this reversal of their policy was " that it 
is our interest to allow of the marriage of our men 
with these women, to prevent wickedness, and in 
regard there is not Englishwomen enough for the 
men, and the common soldiers cannot maintain 
English women and children with their pay, as well 
as they can the women of the country, who are 
not so expensive, and not less modest than our 
common or ordinary people are/' These reasons, 
good as they were, might probably not have satisfied 
the Court, but for a further one, which Master 
threw in, which was that, " in matter of marriages 
we have already gained many hopeful children, 

1 Wheeler i. 52. 2 Wheeler i. 109. 


brought up in the Protestant religion/' and the 
condition imposed on the approval of the Company 
to every such marriage, which was " that both the 
parties to be married shall solemnly promise before 
one of the Chaplains of the place by themselves, 
or some for them, before the Banns shall be published, 
and also in the Chapel or Church by themselves in 
person, that all the children by them begotten and 
born shall be brought up in the Protestant religion/' 
The number of the children who attended these 
schools seems to have been fairly large. They were 
" taught to read and cipher and imbued with the 
principles of the Protestant religion." The members 
of the Court at home seem to have taken considerable 
interest in their spiritual welfare, and constantly 
sent out bibles and catechisms for their use. They 
went indeed so far as to give the Council authority 
to expend the Company's funds on prizes. ' When 
any," they wrote, " shall be able to repeat the 
Catechism by heart, you may give to each of them 
two rupees for their encouragement." We may be 
sure that with this prospect before them very few 
of the children failed to learn their catechism. The 
sight of these little ones going every day to and 
from the school must have had a beneficial and 
humanising effect on the other occupants of the 

No account of Fort St George, as Governor Pitt 
knew it, can properly omit some reference to the 
Mayor and Corporation and the Court of Judicature, 
each of which institutions owed its origin to Sir 
Josiah Child. The main object of the creation of 
the former seems to have been to facilitate the 
collection of revenue from the native inhabitants 
of Black Town, and that of the latter to obtain 
judicial decisions in favour of the Company, in 
every case in which their interests were seriously 


concerned. One of the grounds on which Streynsham 
Master had been dismissed from his Governorship 
by Child in 1681 had been that he had levied a house 
tax on the inhabitants of Black Town. The next 
year Child had been converted to the view that it 
was essential to levy some such tax. On the 2Oth 
of September 1682 he wrote to the Agency 1 "Our 
meaning as to the revenue of the town is that one 
way or another by Dutch, Portugese or Indian 
methods, it should be brought to defray at least 
the whole constant charge of the place, which is 
essential in all governments of the world. People 
protected ought in all parts of the universe in some 
way or other to defray the charge of their protec- 
tion and preservation from wrong and violence/' 
Governor Gifford having felt some difficulty in 
complying with this instruction, Child became more 
and more angry at the delay, and more and more 
bitter and peremptory in his orders. But it was 
not until January 1686 that Gifford ventured to give 
directions to Mr John Littleton to collect a tax from 
the native inhabitants " by all moderate ways and 
fair means possible, that they may not be discon- 
tented or any disturbance arise thereby 2 /' "Not- 
withstanding this/' to quote from the entry made 
in the Consultation Book on that occasion, " and 
the oft-repeated reasons and arguments with them 
for the ready and quiet payment thereof, they did 
this morning in contempt of the Government and 
our orders, tumultuously and mutinously combine 
together commanding the several castes to desist 
from their labour and service to us ; also prohibiting 
and hindering the shops to be opened and grain to 
be brought into the town : insolently declaring that 
they would continue in their rebellion till they were 
freed from the said present and all future taxes/' 

1 Wheeler i. 137. * Wheeler i. 151. 



A very small display of force and resolution however 
soon brought them to their senses. The soldiers of 
the garrison were ordered out, and the Choultry 
drum beaten about the town, and proclamation 
made that if the heads of the several castes did not 
come in and submit themselves before sunset to the 
President and Council, begging pardon for their 
great crime, their dwelling houses would be pulled 
down and the ground sold by public auction and 
they and their families banished for ever from the 
town : that all persons in the Company's service, 
if they did not at once come in to their several 
employments, would be dismissed and never allowed 
to re-enter the service : and that if the Bazaar 
people did not at once open their shops and sell 
their goods as usual, their shops and their goods 
would be confiscated and each of them fined ten 
pagodas. The result of these proceedings was that 
in the evening the heads of the several castes came 
into the fort praying to be heard the following day. 
Next morning they brought in a very humble petition 
begging for forgiveness and pleading for the re- 
mission of the tax " for the sake of the Most High 
God, and in the name of the most serene King 
of England and of the Honble Company/' But 
on finding that the Council were in earnest, they 
gave in unconditionally, and there seems to have 
been little further difficulty in the collection of 
the tax. 

On hearing of what had happened, Child wrote 
again to the Council 1 . " A revenue we will have 
aliquo modo, for that infinite charge we have been 
at to raise that Town (which hereafter we shall call 
a city) from so despicable a condition as it was 
when we settled there. With your leave we will 
have a ground or quit rent for every house within 

1 Wheeler i. 157. 




your precinct and a small poll money for every 
head, as the Dutch have in Batavia." And again 
in the following year " We do hereby order and 
ordain as a law in our City of Madras (which we 
require you to publish with the usual solemnity) all 
persons owners or occupiers of any houses or lands 
within our precinct, that shall neglect or refuse for 
three months after publication to bring in the 
arrears of their respective quit rent imposed upon 
them, such shall for ever hereafter stand charged 
and pay to the Company double the quit rent 
formerly imposed upon them/' Three months after 
despatching this last letter, he decided to set up a 
Municipal Corporation for the city, the Mayor and 
three Aldermen to be English servants of the Com- 
pany, and the remainder Portuguese, Armenians and 
natives, heads of the several castes, in the belief, 
as he said, that the natives " would more willingly 
and liberally disburse five shillings for the public 
good if taxed by themselves than sixpence imposed 
on them by despotical power 1 /' a belief which seems 
to have been founded on his knowledge of the 
English rather than of the native character. A 
Royal Charter of Incorporation was obtained in due 
course : robes, chains and maces sent out : and the 
first meeting of the New Corporation was held in 
September 1688, when the Mayor, Aldermen and 
Burgesses with their Recorder, duly took their oaths, 
went to dinner and marched in their robes with 
their maces before them to the Town Hall. No 
municipal assessment seems however to have been 
made until some years afterwards, and the first 
recorded action of the Corporation was a request 
that some of the Company's dues levied on the town 
might be handed over to them, on the ingenious 
plea that " this was usual in all Corporations in 

1 Wheeler i. 198. 

i 4 2 FORT ST GEORGE [CH. vin 

England." This request seems to have been granted 
at the next meeting of the Council. 

The Mayor and Aldermen were justices of the 
peace, and had power to try all petty cases brought 
before them, with an appeal in civil cases to the 
President and Council and in criminal cases to the 
Judge Advocate. This last official had been sent 
out in 1684 to supersede the former Court of Judi- 
cature, which was not considered to have worked 
satisfactorily 1 . The respect 'with which the decisions 
of this important officer vtere regarded by the Court 
of the Company in London, may be gauged by their 
dismissal of Judge Advocate Dolben in 1694, mainly 
it would appear on the ground that in an action 
brought by the Company against their late President 
Yale, he had given a decision, the correctness of 
which does not seem to have been questioned, that 
the Company's claim was barred by the Statute of 
Limitations. His dismissal was accompanied by 
a direction to the Council that " due respect be 
given to a person of his quality and abilities, in 
consideration of which/' the Court add "it is a 
trouble to us to part with him 2 /' After his dismissal 
from the Company's service Dolben engaged suc- 
cessfully in private trade on his own account. In 
1699 t^ e Court determined to reinstate him. But 
he declined the offer, pleading that he was so far 
engaged on a voyage to China, that he could not 
without hazard of ruining himself break it off. Every 
member of the Council then declined the post of 
Judge Advocate in succession : and it was ulti- 
mately accepted by the Registrar. Dolben's treat- 
ment by the Company was certainly not calculated 
to encourage any self-respecting lawyer even in 
those days to become an applicant for the appoint- 

1 Wheeler i. 288. 2 Vestiges of Old Madras, 2. 30. 



THE six months, which Thomas Pitt had spent 
in his voyage out to India to take up his Governor- 
ship, had been fateful to his employers in England. 
Now that the war with France had come to an end, 
the King and his ministers had found long arrears 
of domestic difficulties awaiting settlement, none of 
which was more pressing than that of the Eastern 
trade. The Government were in urgent need of 
ready money to meet their liabilities, and very 
desirous of finding some expedient, by which they 
could raise it without incurring the unpopularity 
incident to the imposition of additional taxation. 
They therefore practically put the monopoly of the 
trade to the East Indies up to auction, with greater 
regard to their political exigencies than to the 
development of the commercial resources of the 
nation. The Old East India Company made them 
a handsome offer to lend them 700,000 at 4 per 
cent, as the consideration for the confirmation of 
their existing Charter and the maintenance of the 
exclusive rights, which it purported to confer on 
them, the most important of which the House of 
Commons had declared to be valueless until con- 
firmed by Act of Parliament. The Dowgate Associa- 
tion met this offer by proposing that a loan of two 
millions should be raised by public subscription, to 
carry interest at 8 per cent., and that the subscribers 
should have the monopoly of the Eastern trade. 


So great were the needs of the King's Ministry that 
they preferred this larger loan, at the higher rate 
of interest ; and the Bill for enabling it to be raised, 
though bitterly fought in both Houses by the friends 
of the Old Company, received the Royal Assent on 
the 5th of July 1698, two days before Pitt landed 
at Fort St George. The Act thus passed empowered 
the King to make the subscribers a body corporate 
under the name of " The General Society trading to 
the East Indies/' Every subscriber to the fund was 
to be entitled to trade to the East Indies to the 
amount of his subscription ; whilst such of them as 
were willing or desirous might be formed into a 
Joint Stock Company. The subscribers were to 
have the exclusive monopoly of the Eastern trade, 
subject to the condition that the Old East India 
Company, to whom three years' notice was due under 
their Charter, were to be permitted to continue their 
trade in competition with the New Company until 
September 1701. In the meanwhile all the estates 
of the Old Company were to be chargeable with 
their debts, and if any dividends were paid before 
these debts were discharged, the shareholders who 
received them were to be personally responsible, to 
the extent of the sums received by way of dividends, 
for any deficiency in the event of the Company's 
estates proving insufficient for the repayment of the 
Company's debts. On the face of the Act it seemed 
to most persons as if the only hope of the continuance 
of the existence of the Old Company lay in the 
failure of the public to subscribe the two millions. 
This hope was soon gone. The subscription 
books were opened in the Hall of the Mercers' 
Company on the I4th of July, and closed on the 
following day, the whole of the two millions having 
been subscribed. On the 3rd of September a Charter 
passed the Great Seal constituting the subscribers 


a body corporate, and empowering them to trade 
on the terms of a regulated Company, each sub- 
scriber on his own account. The majority having 
signified their desire to trade upon a Joint Stock, 
another Charter dated the 5th of September formed 
such of them as did not desire to trade on their own 
account into a Joint Stock Company by the name 
of " The English Company trading to the East 

There can be little doubt that the proprietors 
of the New Company thus formed confidently ex- 
pected to step into the Old Company's shoes in 
India on comparatively easy terms ; and to buy 
such of their predecessors' possessions there as they 
might care to have on a forced sale at the end of 
three years. But the Old Company had taken 
effective steps to avert any such catastrophe. One 
of the largest subscribers to the Government loan had 
been their own Secretary, Mr Dubois, who acting 
under their directions had put down his name as 
subscriber for 300,000 guineas ; and had been one 
of those who had elected to avail themselves of 
the privilege of trading on their own account. The 
Old Company were therefore in this position. They 
were allowed by the Act of Parliament to retain 
their rights and privileges under their Charter un- 
impaired for the next three years ; and by their 
subscription they had purchased the right to trade 
on their own account to the East to the extent of 
315,000, which right would not lapse at the end of 
that time. In the meanwhile the whole of the two 
millions subscribed had passed into the hands of 
the Government ; and the only moneys the New 
Company had got to trade with were the instalments 
of interest payable to them by the Government on 
so much of it as had been subscribed by the persons 
who had signified their willingness to trade upon 

D. IO 


a Joint Stock. These of themselves were obviously 
insufficient to enable them to compete in trade 
successfully with the Old Company for the next 
three years. The New Company had got their 
monopoly, but as the consideration for granting it 
the Government had abstracted from them the whole 
of their trading capital ; leaving them to traffic as 
best they could without it in competition with rivals 
well established in the trade, who had ample funds 
at their disposal. 

They were therefore forced for the present to 
carry on their commerce by means of precarious 
borrowings. In the first year of their existence 
they succeeded in raising on credit 178,000, with 
which they equipped and loaded three ships, one of 
which they sent to the Presidency of Bombay, one 
to Madras and one to Bengal. During the same 
year the Old Company sent out 13 ships at a cost 
of 525,000. Realising the extent to which they 
were thus handicapped in competing with their 
rivals in trade, the New Company endeavoured to 
improve their position by some compensating adven- 
titious assistance from the Government, whom they 
persuaded at the last moment to confer on the 
three men whom they were sending out as their 
Agents the powers and titles of King's Consuls. 
These consular appointments were an example of 
the political morality of the age. The most im- 
portant duties of an English Consul are to protect 
the interests of such of his countrymen as are resident 
in the foreign country to which he is accredited. 
But the great majority of the English residents in 
India were servants of the Old Company, the very 
persons whose interests these Consuls were being 
sent out to injure to the utmost of their power. 
Nor were the antecedents of the men entrusted with 
these extraordinary powers such as to inspire the 


smallest hope that the English residents in India 
would obtain fair treatment at their hands. Two 
of them, Nicholas Waite, who was thus appointed 
the King's Consul for the Presidency of Bombay, 
and Edward Littleton, the Consul for Bengal, were 
quondam servants of the Old Company, who had 
been dismissed from its service for misconduct. 
The third, who had been appointed Consul for 
Madras, was John Pitt, a distant cousin and ac- 
quaintance of Governor Pitt. Two or three years 
before this he had been employed by the Old Com- 
pany in a subordinate position at Fort St George. 
His selection as Consul seems to have been due 
partly to the consideration that he had some slight 
experience of the Company's trade in that part of 
the world, and partly to the hope that he might 
be able to detach some of his old comrades at Fort 
St George and possibly the Governor himself from 
their allegiance to their employers. Before the 
three Consuls left England, it was thought desirable 
to get Waite and Littleton knighted by the King, 
presumably with the object of rehabilitating their 
reputations in India. The three set sail on board 
the three ships of the New Company with the titles 
of Presidents for the Presidencies of Bombay, Madras 
and Bengal, and with the knowledge that they 
would shortly be followed by Sir William Norris, 
member of Parliament for Liverpool, who had been 
appointed the King's Ambassador to the Great 
Mogul, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty, 
which might confer what privileges he could obtain 
for the New Company. No objection could well be 
taken by the Old Company to this appointment ; 
but its utility was far from obvious. The only 
Ambassador who had been previously sent by an 
English Sovereign to India was Sir Thomas Roe, 
who had gone out to Delhi many years before during 

IO- 2 


the reign of James the First at a time when the 
Mogul's supremacy had not been challenged. Now 
that supremacy was tottering to its fall. Aurungzeb, 
at the age of eighty-one and in declining health, was 
engaged in the field against the Mahrattas, and very 
unlikely to be disposed to waste his time over what 
he must have regarded as the trumpery squabbles 
of the rival English traders, or to care much about 
the views of the King and Parliament of England 
as to their respective merits. Some time however 
had yet to elapse before he was troubled by the 
Ambassador, who instead of coming to Surat and 
proceeding thence by the direct route to the Mogul's 
camp, had been persuaded by Consul John Pitt to 
come first to the Coromandel Coast, where he was 
destined to be detained to his great disgust by one 
excuse or another for nearly a year. 

There can be no doubt that the three King's 
Consuls and the Ambassador came out to India 
imbued with the notion that their commissions gave 
them indefinite but indisputable powers to enquire 
into and regulate the affairs of all English traders 
in the East, and their relations with the native 
authorities ; and that their instructions and inten- 
tions were to exercise these powers after a very high- 
handed fashion, and to treat any attempt to question 
or belittle their authority as a grave offence and 
a contempt of the King's Majesty. In furtherance 
of this policy, Sir Nicholas Waite, the Consul who 
had been appointed to act for the Bombay Presi- 
dency, on arriving at Surat peremptorily commanded 
the President and Council of the Old Company to 
strike their flag, because he himself claimed to bear 
the commission of Vice-Admiral and would allow 
no other flag than his own to be hoisted by English- 
men in that port. In their refusal to comply with 
this order, President Colt and his Council were 


supported by the Mogul Governor of Surat, who 
gave Waite clearly to understand that no commission 
of the King of England was of any authority at 
Surat, unless admitted by the Mogul ; and that the 
Old Company had the Mogul's permission to use 
their flag 1 . Regardless of this intimation Waite 
landed a body of forty men, who took down the 
Old Company's flag by force. It was however sub- 
sequently reinstated by the Governor ; and a series 
of protracted intrigues with the native authorities 
ensued, by means of which the servants of each 
Company endeavoured to outbid the other and to 
stop their rivals' trade. In the meanwhile the 
affairs of the Old Company in that part of India 
were thrown into the utmost danger and confusion. 
Similar disasters might very well have been 
brought about in Madras and Bengal, if the chief 
officers of the Old Company there had not taken 
the responsibility of offering a prompt* and firm 
resistance to the pretensions of the new Consuls. 
Fortunately the Governor of Fort St George, and 
the Old Company's agent at Chuttannuttee were both 
determined men, who knew the strength of their 
position, and could be relied upon to hold their own. 
The first of the two to come into collision with his 
opponent was Governor Pitt, whose cousin Consul 
John Pitt had orders to commence his trading 
operations at Masulipatam (then usually called 
Metchlepatam) some ,two or three hundred miles 
north of Fort St George, formerly the headquarters 
of the Old Company's trade, where at this time the 
Old Company had one of their subordinate factories. 
On his way thither the Consul anchored in the Madras 
Roads off Fort St George, with a view as he after- 
wards explained to make the Old Company's servants 

1 Bruce 3. 311. 


"sensible to the extent of his commission/' The 
Union Jack was hoisted on the Fort ; but he took no 
notice of it, " not/' as he and his council subsequently 
informed the Court of the New Company, " out of 
any disrespect (to the Old Company), but believing 
the Priviledge of wearing it in their fforts on this 
Coast ceas'd by Virtue of the late Act, and His 
Majesty's Royal Charter to the English Company, 
which only secured for the Old Company their Trade 
for three years, not Military Power, and if so, he 
thought the first salute was due to him, and accord- 
ingly sent a letter ashoar to the President to give 
him notice of his arrivall and character/' 

The letter in question was worded as follows : 

" Sir, 

I did by some of Early Shipps let you know that I had 
engag'd my Self in the service of the Honble English Company 
lately Settled by Act of Parliament, which determined yours in 
three years commencing last Michaelmas, and having gain'd 
the Coast cou'd not pass by without dropping our Anchor in 
Madrass Road, and wou'd salute you, had I not the Honour to 
bear his Majesties Commission, which constitutes me his Minister 
or Consull for the English Nation in Generall on the whole 
Coast of Cormandell, including all your Settlements. If you 
think fitt to pay the respect that is due to the Character with 
your fflag Lower'd, the Compliment shall be returned to you by 

Sr. Your affect: Kinsman and Servant 

J. P> 

The superscription of this letter was " To the 
Honble Tho: Pitt Esqr, President for affaires for 
the Governor and Company of Merch ts of London 
Trading yet to the East Indies by permission on 
the Coast of Coromandel." 

To this letter the Governor at once sent the 
following reply 2 : 

1 Hedges 3. 42. 2 Hedges 3. 41. 


Fort St. George, 

July 28. 1699. 
" Sir, 

I received yours the purport of which seems very odd 
as well as the Superscription. If you had read the Act of 
Parliament, and well consider'd it, you will find that it Estab- 
lishes my Masters in all their rights and priviledges in these parts 
till 1701, and afterwards Tis secur'd to them by their Subscrip- 
tion, therefore you can have noe power in any place of their 
Settlements, nor shall I own any till I am Soe order'd by those 
that intrust me. 

I am not unacquainted with what respect is due to the 
King's Consull, (whether you are one I know not) but you cannot 
ever have heard an Ancient Fortification wearing the King's 
Flagg shou'd lower it and Salute a reall Consull : but I take 
it to be your Obligation to have Saluted the Flagg ashore at 
your comeing to anchor, when wee Shou'd have answer' d ac- 
cording to custome and good manners. 

What liquors 1 you have for me I desire you to send ashore 
in these Boats. You must expect to find me noe less zealous 
for my Masters' interest then you are for yours, and as you act, 
the same will be returned to you by 

Sr, your affectionate Kinsman 
and humble servant, 

Tho. Pitt. Governour. 

I find you are a Young Consull by the purport and super- 
scription of your letter. I wish you had omitted it. 
To John Pitt Esqr, 

On board the Degrave." 

This letter seems to have surprised and enraged 
its recipient, who wrote back: 

" I am sorry to find the zeal for your Masters has Transported 
you beyond Sence and Good Manners. I shall Impute it in 
part to the heat of the Country, which has alter'd your Temper. 

1 N.B. The Governor seems to have taken it for granted that 
his cousin, whatever his other shortcomings might be, would not 
have omitted to bring him liquors. Whether he got any on this 
occasion does not appear. We may perhaps assume that he did ; 
for we find from a subsequent letter, extracts from which are given 
below, that his displeasure did not go so far as to prevent him ^ from 
sending the young Consul some wine that he had asked for. " You 
shall have," he says, " ten chests of Persian Wine sent you by the 
first opportunity." Hedges 3. 49. 


The young Consul! as you term him gives you this advice, to 
mind the main Chance and not forfeit Old Sarum &ca and expose 
yourself to the World to boot : who I do assure you will much 
censure and blaim this rashness of yours, and let me tell you 
your Masters will neither Thank you and bear you out in it. 
I came later from England than your advices. J. P. 

I shall send you your letters from Metchlepatam. You'l 
know in the End I am not to be taught my Duty by you. J. P. 

July 28. 99. 

I shall answer your Scurrilous Letter from Metchlepatam, 
and beleive me you'l wish you had never wrote in Such a Stile. 
Fie take such measures to make you Sencible that my Com- 
mission reaches over all your Settlements and you your Selfe 
shall be forc'd to own and publish it in all your Forts and 
Settlements and beg pardon for the affront offer'd to the Character 
of his Majesties Consull. J. P. 

To Thos. Pitt Esq r in Madrass." 

On his arrival at Masulipatam, the young Consul 
found that the Old Company's factor and his col- 
leagues there, acting no doubt on the instructions 
of his cousin the Governor, took no notice whatever 
of him. Whereupon he wrote to them acquainting 
them with the terms of his appointment, and 
summoning them to appear before him 1 . " You were 
not unsensible," he says, " of my Arrivall and what 
regard and respect is" due to 't. This is therefore 
to will and require you in the King's Name to repair 
to our Factory tomorrow morning between 9 and 
10, being the 8th instant August, Upon hoisting 
the Flagg, when I intend to open and read my 
Commission. I take this course that you nor any 
other of the English nation residing here may not 
plead Iggnorance. Therefore fail not to appear as 
you'l answer the Contrary at your Perill." 

No attention seems to have been paid to this 

notice by the servants of the Old Company to whom 

: was addressed ; and on being informed of what 

had occurred, the Governor of Fort St George and 

1 Hedges 3. 44. 


his Council issued the following proclamation to all 
of the forts and factories in the Presidency. 

" Wee the Governour President and Council of Fort St. George 
for affairs of the Right Honble the East India Company, being 
advised that Mr. John Pitt lately arrived at Metchlepatam has 
by a Summons wherein he Stiles him self the New Company's 
President and the Kings Consull for the Coast, directed to our 
Companys Factors there, wherein he seems to usurp an Authority 
over them, and to intermeddle with our Companys Affaires, the 
pernicious consequences of which being well Considered by us, 
have thought fitt to Send out these our orders to all our Forts, 
Castles, Towns and Factorys under this Presidency for the 
following reasons. 

For that the Act of Parliament, which erects the New 
East India Company continues our Company Trade till September 
1701, from whence we'e Infer that they are to Enjoy all their 
Rights and Priviledges and there Governours, Presidents and 
Factorys to exercise all powers necessary for the supports of 
your Governments and Trade. 

Moreover wee observe in the Act our Company are exempted 
from paying the five per Cent, which is for bearing the Charge of 
Embassadours and Consulls, from which wee likewise inferr that 
our Companys affairs nor Servants nor any Trading under there 
protection in these parts are under theire direction or controul. 

Wherefore for the foregoing reasons and to prevent the 
great mischiefs that otherwise will undoubtedly attend our 
Masters affaires wee require all English in our Companys Service 
as allso all that live and Trade under their protection not to 
obey or regard any Summons or Orders that they shall receive 
from Mr. John Pitt or any one Else under the pretence of his 
being a President for the New Company or a Consull. 

Wee resolve to persist in this opinion till his most Gracious 
Majesties Pleasure be Signified to us, or that our Honble Em- 
ployers give us direction herein. 

In Confirmation whereof Wee have here unto Sett our 
hands and the Scale of our Company At Fort St. George in the 
city of Maderasse This 23 day of August 1699. 

Thomas Pitt. 
Francis Ellis. 
Ro. Braddyl. 
Tho. Wright. 
M. Empson. 
Tho. Marshall. 
Richard Watts." 


It will be observed that the signature of Mr 
William Eraser, the second member of the Council, 
is not appended to this document. When it was 
issued, he was probably away at Fort St David, of 
which he was Deputy Governor, and where, as 
appears from a letter of the Court to Pitt, there had 
lately been what they describe as an " unlucky 
miscarriage," occasioned by his ' unaccountable 
supineness," which had clearly in their opinion 
" proclaimed the want of Fit Genius to manage so 
important a Station 1 ." If he had been at this time 
at Fort St George, it would have been in accordance 
with his usual custom of disapproving of the policy 
of the Governor for the time being, to have refused 
to sign this proclamation. 

The long-winded wordy warfare which ensued 
between the Governor and his cousin has not sur- 
vived in its entirety. Each man stuck to the position 
he had taken up, and abused the other roundly, 
interspersing his remarks with uncomplimentary 
references to his antagonist's antecedents and per- 
sonal failings. In the course of this correspondence 
the Governor, who seems to have plumed himself 
on being a scrupulously polite letter-writer, takes 
exception to one of Consul Pitt's missives as con- 
taining " sundry expressions as if it had been dictated 
to him by the oyster wenches of Billingsgate 2 /' 
But in this respect there does not seem to have been 
any marked difference between the two disputants. 
In the letter which contains this reproof, the 
Governor himself says in reply to the suggestion 
that he is hot-headed, " Tis certain a great mis- 
fortune for any Society to have a hott brain'd 
President at the head of their affairs, but a farr 
greater to have a Crackbrained and Unexperienced 
President, who must undoubtedly in a little time 

1 Hedges 3. 37, 38. 2 Hedges 3. 73. 


bring all into Confusion/' The gist of his case and 
the kind of language in which it was conveyed to 
his opponent, may be gathered from the following 
extracts of a letter, which he sent to his cousin on 
the iyth of November in that vear 1 . 

' The fable of the froggs Suits your present temper, and the 
Morall and reflexion I hope will make much impression on you 
Soe as to prevent your having the fate of the froggs. I recom- 
mend to you allsoe the reading and practising the fables of the 
Lion and the Mouse, and the Wolf and the Stork. 

I find to Excuse your own miscarryage in this port, in not 
paying the respect due to the Kings fflagg, you seem to question 
our power to wear itt, and that we are not to be esteemed as 
Bombay, or St. Helena, to either of which I think wee have 
much the preheminence, for that wee are much more Considerable 
in all respects. I remember Bombay, St. Helena and all other 
fortifications in these parts wore St. Georges fflag, and 'twas 
King James (who I suppose youle own once had a power 
order'd that all fortifications belonging to the African or East 

India Company should wear his fflag don't you know they 

have power to raise Soldiers for these parts, which is part of the 
Regall power ; and 'tis no wonder the wearing his fflagg should 
goe with itt. The Honour of itt has, and shall be maintain'd 
during my time. . . . 

If you pass by here you must behave your Selfe very 
civilly, noe Drums, flaggs nor trumpets within our bounds, for 
here shall be but one Governour whilst I am here. 

Your advice is very good, and I returne it to you, mind 
your trade, which is your Masters business, and when the Moors 
have bang'd you, and Stript you of what you have, upon your 
Submission and begging pardon for what you have done, I may 
chance to protect you here. I can't but laugh at your promising 
us protection ; when you have neither forces, power nor Interest 
in the Countrey. When ours are assign' d you, you may talk at 
that rate. 

I have Seen your Sugar Candy how-doe-you-doe letters to 

severall, all which will not doe You may lock up your 

Consulls Commission till my Masters time is expir'd. . . 

I think I have now answer'd all your riff raff stuff, which 
I hope will be as tiresome to you to read as 't is to me to write. . . 
. . I order'd the Captain to bring me six horses, but he could 
not gett one. Capt. Brook brought me one which I bought of 

1 Hedges 3. 47. 


him, which proves too good for you, and only fitt for me to 
ride! I have another, an Arab, but that is small. You shall 
have ten chests of Persian Wine sent you by the first opper- 

To Conclude this tedious letter I must tell you I am not 
unsensible how some of my Masters I now serve intended to have 
done basely by mee, and am not ignorant what prevented itt, 
yett for the sake of those that stood my past friends, I will not 
doe any thing, or any wise omitt what I ought, whereby to 
bring any blemish on them or my Selfe. Farewell." 

The last paragraph of this letter is very charac- 
teristic of Thomas Pitt. On whichever side of a 
quarrel he took his stand, no employers of his ever 
had any reason to complain of his fidelity to their 
interests at any stage of his career. A few weeks 
before a friend ~of John Pitt at Fort St George had 
informed the Consul 1 that " Our present Governour 
is really of himself a very good man, and certainly 
very zealous to the Interest he espouses/' It was 
always so with him. Nor was it his practice to try 
to undermine the allegiance of his opponent's ser- 
vants, by writing what he calls t( sugar candy 
how-doe-you-doe letters " to them. The following 
is a sample of these which his cousin had sent about 
this time with the object of inducing some of the men 
in the service of the Old Company or trading under its 
protection at Fort St George to come over to his 
side 2 : 

" From Consul John Pitt to Mr. Betts at Madras 
Dated Metchlepatam 
August 14. 99. 

Sr. I am come to India and intend to Settle in these 
parts ; if you have a mind to ingage in the Service of the English 
Company trading to the East Indies lately Establish't lie make 
t worth your while. Your Sallary will be 60 per annum all 
paid in the country, and lie make your perquisites considerable. 
You know my Temper. Tie engage youl get money as much 
as you can expect and you have a hearty wellcome from me 

1 Hedges 3. 46. a Hedges 3. 45. 


and if you dont like public business you shall be with me and 
fare as well whether you Embrace it or not if you come make 
hast Overland Your charges Shall be allow'd don't deny me if 
you doe you'l be your own Enemy. 

This is the 2nd. I have wrot you. I am 

Yours J. P." 

In the face of this and similar letters it is not 
easy to justify the indignation which Mr John Pitt 
expresses when writing about the same time to 
another man at Fort St George whom he was ap- 
proaching after much the same fashion 1 . " President 
Pitts dirty reflection upon our Honble Directors " 
he writes " was false and malicious, pray tell him 
from me they are Gentlemen of more Honour and 
the persons they have imploy'd, than to Intice any 
man in the Service of the Company of Merchants 
of London Trading to the East Indies. I wish he 
and his &cas would act soe too and not stave off 
Ballanceing acounts and giving discharges on purpose 
to ruine those who would then be at liberty to serve 
which interest they pleas'd." 

In the meanwhile Sir Edward Littleton, the 
King's Consul for Bengal, was faring little better with 
the Old Company's President at Chuttannuttee than 
his colleague was in Madras with the Governor of 
Fort St George. Having arrived at Balasore, he 
wrote on the 2Qth of July, the day after John Pitt's 
lamentable fiasco in the Madras Roads, to Beard, 
the son of the John Beard who had come out to 
India with poor Hedges some 18 years before with 
the main object of frustrating Thomas Pitt's suc- 
cessful interloping expedition of 1681, a letter which 
clearly shows that the two Consuls had decided in 
concert the course which they should take with the 
Old Company's officials. 

i Hedges 3. 47. 


" Much Esteemed Friend," he writes 1 , " The Generall herewith 
to your Self and those in Council Employ or Commission with 
you is not in the least from any disrespect to your Self, for 
whom I have no mean esteem, nor to any of the rest who are 
known to mee only by name or employ, but intirely to represent 
unto you the true state of the case, being it may be supposed 
you have not had any full account thereof from your employers 
except by the Antelope, this affair of the Consulship being 
transacted as I take it, cheifly after the departure of your ships, 
and to prevent any unhappy occurrence, which might otherwise 
perhaps succeed, nor is there any design in the least therein 
to embarrasse or obstruct the currency of your affaires, as in 
practice you will find, nor create any difference between us, 
but rather a firmer and stricter Friendship and correspondence, 
and will certainly prove so if no failure on your part, which 
I will not suspect. I must profess an absolute ignorance of 
your Employers orders or designes, but as a reall friend I do 
take upon myself to advise you that whereas upon the arrivall 
of Ships particular there hath been frequently application made 
to the Government against them, and odious calumnies cast upon 
them which probably may have caused recriminations and have 
all tended not only to the National prejudice, but even to 
Christianity itself. Wee are now come on Parliamentary Sanction, 
the greatest Authority our Nation affords, So may not expect 
any Such usage, however think it not amiss that you are warned 
thereof, for the resentment of our Employers for Such Actions 
may be such as may cause the end to prove very bitter and 
possibly fatall to the Actors, nor can you think but wee Shall 
be as vegorous on our part, as you Shall be Vehement on yours 
nor will our hands wax weaker but Stronger Dayly. 

The affaires of the Durbar with respect to the English 
Intrest will center in the Consull, So to be foreborne by all 
others, also all Passes for Ships, So that you will do well to 
let Such know thereof least they do bring them Selves under 
some disappointment. 

You must needs know that at our first coming wee are to 
Seek for needful things, especially Small vessels and Pilots. 
[ am not for withdrawing any Mens Servants against their 
Masters consent, but yet had rather our own Countreymen do 
reap the benefit than aliens. So that if you think not fit to 
Spare any your Self yet it may not be imprudent not to hinder 
any others that should be willing thereto. Know not how to 
Speak so plain in this matter as otherwise I might being a stranger 
to your circumstances and directions, but am well assured 

1 Hedges 2. 206. 


nothing will be done of service to our Employers by any persons 
but will Surely meet with very gratefull acceptance and re- 

I ad not more. Let not what is offered with the Right 
hand be received with the Left, I am 

Your reall friend and humble Servant 
Edward Littleton." 

Beard's reply to this letter has apparently not 
been preserved. But its purport may be inferred 
from a letter which he and his Council sent to Surat, 
dated the gth of August 1 . " The 4th of last month the 
Antelope arrived in Ballasore Road with S r Edward 
Littleton, President for the New Company's affaires, 
and he says Consull for the English Nation, having 
the King's Commission. . . . Our answer to him in 
generall that we will espouse our Masters Interest 
according to orders received from them, and thought 
it (more) proper to manage the Durbar business for 
our R 1 H.M/s Affaires than to address him, since 
we had better footing. . .withall we assured him we 
would not represent his Interest in false colours to 
the GovS as his ffriends had maliciously done our 
Masters in Suratt, yet if he begun we would not 
cross cudgels with any contenders. We are not at 
all surprised with these matters, which may make 
a noise for a time, and att last a trade will center 
in the old bottom again." 

When Littleton arrived at Hugli, he seems to 
have had further reason to complain of the Old 
Company's officials ; for in a letter which he wrote 
to the Duke of Somerset in the following January he 


2 - 

" As soon as I arrived in these parts I gave Notice to the 
Gentlemen residing here on behalfe of the Old East India 
Company of the Character his Gracious Majesty was pleased 
to give mee, but in answer they tooke noe notice of his Majestys 

1 Hedges 2. 208. 

2 Hedges 2. 207. 


Character, but to disowne any power his Majesty had on that 
account, and would owne noe authority but what came from 
their Masters. Upon my comeing up to this place I passed by 
their Chief e Factory, and having his Majesty's Flagg at the 
Top of our Mast, they were soe far from taking notice thereof 
in the Least, that tho' its usual for them to spread their Colours 
on the Least Vessels passing by, Yett now in mere affront to 
the Consular Dignity they not only forebore to spread any 
Colours themselves, but prevented all Shipps of English there, 
of which there were diverse, from taking any notice of the Kings 
Flagg alwayes used heretofore, and they having at the time 
a Servant of the New Company in their Factory, on his Com- 
plaint, I sent two of my Company to demand his Liberty which 
was not only refused : but on the 2Oth September, being three 
days after, fixes a pestilent Paper upon the Gate of the Factory, 
of very trayterous import, a true Copy whereof goes with this 
by which Your Highness will perceive what Sorte of Subjects 
the English in the Old Companies Service are, and his Majesty 
will alsoe see how much his authority is here Vilified by those 
to whome on many accounts he had been exceedingly gracious, 
even to Admiration/' 

The pestilent paper of very traitorous import, to 
which Littleton here refers, was probably the pro- 
clamation issued by Governor Pitt and his Council. 
If so, the Company's servants at their Hugli factory 
had no option but to publish it, though their doing 
so may well have been very unpleasing to Littleton. 
It is clear that the Governor and Beard were acting 
in concert together throughout this business, and 
that Beard's action met with the full approval of 
the Governor, who wrote to him shortly afterwards, 
^You did very well in Standing up against Sir 
Edward, and not permitt him to concerne him selfe 
with our Masters affairs, which are not within his 
power, for I assure you lett them be Ambassador 
or Consulls, or whatever Characters they have, they 
shall not concerne themselves within my precinct. 
Our Masters have not wrote us one word, in Generall 
or particular, concerning these new authority s 1 ." 

1 Hedges 3. 50. 


It would appear from another letter written to 
Beard about a year afterwards that Pitt had himself 
gone so far as to write to Littleton 1 . " He has most 
Certainly/' he says, " taken some disgust at me, for 
I wrote him a letter last year by Captain Wesley 
and Sent him a handsome present' to which I never 
had any answer. I remember I rub'd a little upon 
his Knighthood and Consulship at which I suppose 
he was angry." It is not unlikely that he was. 

No policy could have been more judicious or 
more disconcerting to his opponents than the bold 
and simple one which Governor Pitt had adopted 
in this crisis. He seems to have entertained no 
doubt himself that he was acting strictly within his 
legal rights ; and the " pestilent paper/' which he 
had promulgated throughout the Old Company's 
settlements in Madras and Bengal, was a clear and 
carefully reasoned statement, couched in unmis- 
takeable terms, of what he believed those rights to 
be, and why he considered it his duty to his em- 
ployers to enforce them, and to forbid his subordinates 
to obey or regard any order or summons from Mr 
John Pitt or any one else under the pretence of his 
being a President for the New Company or a King's 
Consul. He and his Council had taken upon them- 
selves the full responsibility of stamping John Pitt 
and Sir Edward Littleton as impostors, claiming to 
exercise powers which neither Parliament nor the 
King had given them. And he had directed them 
to be so regarded, until his Most Gracious Majesty's 
pleasure to the contrary was signified to him, or he 
had received instructions from his employers, in- 
forming him that he was wrong. He knew of course 
that some six months at least must elapse before 
the home authorities could learn what he had 
done ; that if any doubts were entertained of the 

1 Hedges 3. 67. 




legality of the course he was pursuing, a further 
delay of incalculable duration was inevitable, whilst 
the English courts of law were determining whether 
the interpretation which he had placed on the recent 
Act was right or wrong ; and that assuming that 
they were to decide against him, another six months 
would pass before their decision could reach him. 
It was therefore very unlikely that he would be forced 
to retire from the position he had taken up before 
the expiration of the three years' grace allowed to 
the Old Company by Parliament. In the mean- 
while he might not unreasonably expect that the 
position of the two unlucky Consuls would become 
more and more intolerable. Denounced publicly as 
impostors, and subjected in private to the humilia- 
tion of his insolent jibes and jeers, short of funds, 
with no military forces at their disposal, without 
credit amongst strangers only too disposed to 
distrust and deceive them, without even any fixed 
establishments, boycotted by their fellow countrymen, 
whom they had come out ostensibly to protect but 
in reality to persecute, what were their chances of 
competing successfully in trade with the Old Com- 
pany, trafficking as they were with the cargoes of 
two ships only and hampered with the cost of an 
Embassy, whilst their rivals, exempted by Act of 
Parliament from any liability to contribute to those 
expenses, stimulated to unprecedented exertions and 
determined to make hay whilst their sun still shone, 
had sent out to India that year a larger number of 
cargoes than they had ever done before ? The 
result of such a contest could admit of little doubt. 
The damage done in Bombay to the Old Company's 
cause by the tame submission of their officials to 
the high-handed proceedings of Waite would be more 
than compensated by the large gains the Company 
would make by their trade in Madras and Bengal, 


and the prestige arising from the discomfiture of 
the King's Consuls on that side of India. Thus 
far the new Governor of Fort St George had scored 
a distinct success, and amply justified the confidence 
placed in him b}^ his supporters, who had appointed 
him notwithstanding the opposition of Sir Josiah 
Child. " Roughling " he might be. But it was no 
time to mince his words. On no occasion throughout 
his career was his rough, plain speaking more justi- 
fiable or productive of better results. 

II 2 



GOVERNOR PITT'S proclamation to all the forts 
and factories in his Presidency, denouncing the 
King's Consul for Madras as an impostor, and for- 
bidding the Old Company's servants to obey or 
regard any of his orders was dated the 23rd of 
August 1699. A month later Sir William Norris, 
the King's Ambassador, arrived in state off Masuli- 
patam on board one of his Majesty's ships and 
accompanied by three other men-of-war. He was 
a man of much higher consideration and repute in 
England than either John Pitt or Littleton ; and 
he was by no means disposed to underrate his 
personal importance or the dignity of his present 
office. But he laboured under the very serious 
disadvantage of having had no previous experience 
of India and its inhabitants. From a direction 1 
given by him to John Pitt, on his arrival at Masuli- 
patam, to pay Captain Warren, the Commodore of 
the squadron, a gratuity of 500 dollars for his 
" signall kindness," " and for his great service and 
fidelity to the New Company and their interest," 
it would seem that Norris hoped that the services 
of that officer would be available to support him in 
any emergency, so long as the ships remained on 
that coast. 

It is noteworthy, however, that although on his 
way to Masulipatam he had put into Madras Roads 2 , 

1 Hedges 3. 53. 2 Bruce 3 3 


where he was respectfully saluted by the Fort, he 
had refrained from landing there/ for fear the 
captains of the fleet, which was conducting him, 
might be influenced against the New Company, by 
Governor Pitt and his Council. 

Up to this time the Old Company's servants at 
Masulipatam, acting under their Governor's orders, 
had kept the newcomers at arm's length. But 
emboldened by the sight of the four King's ships, 
the King's Consul now resumed his overtures to 
Mr Thomas Lovell, the Chief of the Old Company's 
factory, with better results than heretofore. He 
wrote on the 2ist of September, when the ships 
were in sight, the following letter to Lovell 1 : 

" S r : Tho you were so rude not to let me have your 
Company at my Landing, and so impudent, I will not give it 
a worse name, not to take notice of the Sumons I sent you to 
appear at our Factory when I read my Commission, yet I shall 
not omitt giving you notice of the arrivall of his Excellency 
Sr. Wm. Norris Barronet Ambassador Extraordinary from the 
King of England to the Great Mogull convey'd by 4 Men of 
Warr, and that he designs to come ashore in a day or two, and 
expects that you and the rest of the English belonging too and 
resideing in your Factory doe make your appearance at his 
Landing, to pay your duty and attend him to his Lodgings, let 
me advice you as a friend not to omitt it, for your neglect will 
be taken for contempt, and greater Inconveniencys will follow 
upon't then you are aware of. 

Your father was very instrumentall in Saveing the life of 
an accquaintance of mine which I Shall airways own, and would 
not have you run your Self into a Nooze for want of a little 
good advice from 

J. Pitt." 

To this letter Lovell sent the following reply, 
the complaisant tone of which was no doubt to 
some extent due to the sight of the four ships of 
the King's Navy in the offing, and the fear that 
if he continued recalcitrant, he might possibly be 

1 Hedges 3. 53- 


sent home a prisoner on one of them, a fate which, 
as will be seen, he very narrowly escaped afterwards. 

" Honble Sr, 

Last night I received your paper bearing date the 
2ist instant, chargeing me with Rudeness and Impudence in not 
obeying your former Summons. I hope the copy of the order 1 , 
which comes herewith will clear me of 't. 

I shall undoubtedly pay my respects to his Excellency 
Sr Wm Norris at his Landing, if you will please to let me know 
the day, and time he designs to come. 

I am heartily Glad my father hath Serv'd you in any thing 
to deserve your favour, and it would be an unspeakable Joy 
to me could I doe the same, and show you how much I am 
Hpnble S r : 

Your most humble servant, 

Thos Lovell." 

On the same day the following letter was ad- 
dressed by the Ambassador to Consul Pitt and his 
Council " from on board His Majesties Shipp Harwich, 
riding att Anchor in the Roads before Metchlepatam 
on the Coast of Coromandell, the 23rd of September 

" Hon rd Gentlemen, 

I thought it Necessary to take the first Oppertunity 
to Signify to you my Arrivall on the Coast, which was (with the 
Squadron under the Comand of Comadore Warren) on the 2Oth 
instant about Six in the evening, And on Munday next I intend 
to disembarque. 

This comes by a Shipp in the Service of the Old Company 
wherefor I think itt not expedient to say anything further 
than that I am, 

Hon rd Gentlemen, 

Your humble servant 
W m . Norris. 

All possible provision is makeing (by the Governor in Chief e 
of the Province under the Great Mogull) for my Reception, 

1 This order was probably the proclamation issued by Governor 
Pitt and his Council and set out on page 153. 
a Hedges 3. 52. 


with Great Grandure and all Imaginable Demonstrations of 
friendship. A Supply of Wine and Strong Beer will bee Neces- 
sary by the first Oppertunity." 

It would seem from this extraordinary postscript 
that the unfortunate Ambassador had actually been 
deluded by some one into the belief that when he 
landed at the small, out-of-the-way station at 
Masulipatam, he would find the Governor in Chief 
of the Province waiting to receive him and conduct 
him in pomp to the camp of the Mogul. Nor did 
the reply which the Consul sent him contain any- 
thing to remove this delusion on his part. 

" My Lord/' it begins, " Shall get all things ready for your 
Lordships reception on Monday and will advise You tomorrow 
what hour of the day will be best to Land. 

If your Excellency pleases in my opinion 'twill be best to 
have only a Cold treat, and the Sever all tables ready spread 
Cover'd upon your Arrivall, for 'twill be impossible to hitt the 
time so exactly as to have it hott and in Order besides 'twill 
be expected it shou'd be done with a deal of more Ceremony 
than what circumstances will admitt, for your Excellency cannot 
but be Sensible Wee must be in a little hurry, not being Yet 
well Settled, and everybody with me unacquainted with India. 

I am, My Lord, 

Your Excellencys most humble 

J. Pitt. 
Metchlepatam. 23 7br. 99." 

Thankful as the Ambassador must have been to 
find himself on shore once more at the end of his 
long and tedious voyage, he must have been griev- 
ously disappointed on landing not to find the great 
Indian officer of state whom he had expected waiting 
to receive him. Nor is it likely that such accommo- 
dation as John Pitt had been able to provide for 
him came up to his lordly expectations. Such as 
it was, it would probably have been worse, if at the 
last moment Lovell and the other Englishmen from 


the Old Company's factory had not been pressed 
to supply some of the most urgent necessaries for 
the Ambassador and his retinue, including the wine 
and strong beer for which he seems to have stood 
in such pressing need. For some time to come 
Lovell and his men were probably anxious to pro- 
pitiate the great man. Their position was by no 
means an enviable one. On the one hand any 
kindness or attention they might show him and his 
suite would certainly be reported to and very likely 
misconstrued by their master, the Governor of Fort 
St George, who was not a man to be trifled with. 
On the other hand so long as the four men-of-war 
were within calling distance, the poor men must 
have remained in imminent danger of being arrested 
and put in irons, if they neglected to comply with 
any of the Ambassador's requirements. In the 
circumstances the probability is that they yielded 
to his demands and orders, and reported all that 
occurred to the Governor of Fort St George. 

In choosing Masulipatam instead of Surat as his 
starting point for the Mogul's camp, Norris had 
evidently been grossly misled by John Pitt. As the 
latter frankly confesses in the above letter, everybody 
with him was unacquainted with India ; and as 
a matter of fact he had not as yet been successful 
in inducing any one of the Old Company's servants 
at Fort St George to come over to his side. The 
only shadow of an excuse that he seems to have 
had for pretending that he possessed any qualifica- 
tions for arranging for the Ambassador's progress 
to the camp of the Mogul from this part of India 
was that 1 seven years before, in 1692, he and another 
subordinate servant of the Company, Mr Trenchfield, 
had been entrusted by Governor Yale to carry a 
present of 15,000 rupees to the Mogul's general, 

1 Wheeler i. 247. 


Zulficar Khan at Gingi, and to bring back a firman, 
conferring certain privileges on the Old East India 
Company and the Governor and Council of Fort 
St George. Yale had very judiciously assisted the 
Mogul's forces when engaged in their war with the 
King of Golconda, by supplying them with ammuni- 
tion and stores ; and on the successful termination 
of hostilities Zulficar Khan had in requital for this 
service obtained a firman from the Mogul's Vizier, 
Asad Khan, conferring the privileges in question. 
On the strength of the fact that he and another 
young man had conveyed the rupees and brought 
back the treaty, John Pitt seems to have posed in 
England as a successful Eastern diplomatist and 
a persona grata to the victorious general ; and to 
have persuaded the Ambassador to select Masuli- 
patam instead of Surat as the starting point for 
his embassy, thereby most unfortunately for the 
New Company bringing him within the sphere of 
influence of Governor Pitt instead of that of Sir 
John Gayer. 

Some three and a half months after Norris had 
been left at Masulipatam, the following letter was 
addressed to Zulficar Khan by the Consul, with the 
approval, it is to be presumed, of the Ambassador 1 . 

" John Pitt &c a 

To the Victorious and Noble Navob Zulfiker Cawne. 

When your Excellency lay before Chingee I was 
introduced into Your Presence by Emaun Coly Begue and 
received a Grant of everything I desir'd from Your Excellency, 
which Goodness and Condescention shall never be forgotten, 
and for which I have ever Since wish'd Your Excellency Success 
in Armes, Health, prosperity and long life. Emaun Coly Begue 
has been so Kind as to acquaint you with the Arrivall of his 
Excellency My Lord Ambassador Extraordinary from the King 
of England &c a : and to make known to you what the import 
of my Letter to him was, which was very great in your 

1 Hedges 3. 54. 


Excellency so far to comply with, and beyond all expectation to 
part with so Trusty a Confident and necessary a Man as Emaun 
Coly is to You : no person would have done it but Your Noble 
Self. His Excellency My Lord Ambassadore admires your 
Generousity so readily to write to Court to Notifie his Arrivall, 
and requesting his Majesty's orders and the Great Navob Assid 
Cawns Phirwanna, and longs to have a Sight of your Person 
to tell Your Excellency how much hee's oblig'd to You. Your 
Excellency will find My Lord Ambassadore A Man of Honor 
and worth, who knows how to return so great a favour with 
thanks, and Your Excellency may be assur'd he'l do't, and in 
the mean time he'l receive Emaun Coly Begue as your Excellencys 
friend. My Lord gives his humble Service to your Excellency 
and desires his gratitude may be known, and humble service 
given to the Great Navob. 

Metchlepatam the loth Jany 1699 *" 

This letter seems to have been concocted mainly 
for the purpose of leading the Ambassador to believe 
that John Pitt was in close touch with Zulficar Khan, 
and Eman Cooli Beg, who was to act as emissary 
in this business 2 . Norris subsequently had good 
reason to doubt the latter's honesty, and that of 
his colleague, Vincatadre, Consul Pitt's dubash or 
chief merchant who had come from Fort St George 
to Masulipatam shortly after the Consul's arrival 
there, and had been for many years in the employ 
of the Old Company. Norris expresses a strong 
opinion that both men were still in the pay of 
Governor Pitt, and calls them " villanous fellows/' 
and says " the treachery of both of them is as clear 
to me as noon day 3 ." " In any case this letter was 
unlikely, unless accompanied with a more substantial 
present than John Pitt could afford to send, to 
induce Zulficar to throw over the Governor of Fort 
St George, who was the only official with whom all 

1 This date should evidently have been 1700. According to the 
old-style it would be properly written " 1699-1700." 

Fifteenth Report of Historical Manuscripts Commission. Ap- 
pendix x. 81. 

3 Hedges 3. 58. 


former treaties relating to the English trade in 
Madras had been made, and who had not been 
backward in the past in paying handsomely for 
them. The Ambassador was to him an unknown 
personage recommended by a mere clerk, whose 
only claim to recognition was that he had once 
some seven years before been admitted into Zulficar's 
presence, as one of the bearers of a gift of 15,000 
rupees from the Governor of Fort St George. As 
a matter of fact it is clear that the letter, if it ever 
reached Zulficar, had little, if any, practical effect. 
In the meanwhile Governor Pitt was probably fully 
aware of what was going on. He had all the existing 
treaties in his possession. His cousin John had 
written fruitlessly for copies of them, first from 
Elihu Yale, who had left Fort St George before the 
Consul's letter reached its destination, and after- 
wards from his old acquaintance Trenchfield, who, 
whilst agreeing as to the importance of any Embassy 
proceeding to the Mogul's camp being made aware 
of their contents, had very properly informed the 
Consul that he must know that it was impossible 
to comply with his request 1 . That Governor Pitt 
had himself taken some steps to frustrate his cousin's 
plans is clear from his letter of the nth of February 
1700 to the Court of the Old Company, in which 
he says 2 : 

" I shall not trouble you with much relation about the 
Ambassador, being unable to committ in paper some services 
I have done you, which I am forc'd to keep as Secrets here for 
fear of haveing some turn Informers and Come Evidence against 
me, he is still in Metchlepatam making great preparations for 
his going up to the King the latter end of next month, when 
I shall take care to have the best information I can of all the 
proceedings. And I hope to write to you hereafter that they 
have not been able to doe you much harm, tho they speake 
very bigg and threaten hard, and 'tis said they dont doubt but 

1 Hedges 2. 288. 

2 Hedges 3. 50. 


to see us call'd to an account for all moneys rais'd by way of 
revenue in the Mogulls dominions : 'tis Certain if they dont 
hear of a Conjunction 1 they will endeavour your entire mine, 
and 'tis as certaine I will defend and support your cause, and 
doe as much as if the whole concerne was my owne." 

In the meanwhile the Ambassador had issued 
the following notice 2 to the Agency at Masulipatam : 
" This is to require and command you not to presume 
to make any address or application, either in your 
own person or by any other, directly or indirectly 
to any public minister or officer of the Great Mogul, 
without my knowledge or permission, as you will 
answer the contrary at your peril. Given at Metch- 
lepatam December 26th 1699. William Norris." 

On this being reported to the Governor and his 
Council they at once sent the Ambassador the 
following letter 3 : 

" To His Excellency S r William Norris Ban 4 Embassador to 
the Great Mogull at Metchlepatam. 

S r , 

Wee having been informed by Mr. Thomas Lovell, our 
Companys ffactor at Metchlepatam, that upon the approaching 
of the new Nabob, who is come to Govern that Country, you 
sent for him and deliver'd him a Paper, requiring and com- 
manding him in a most extraordinary manner, not to make any 
applycation to any of the Mogulls officers (for the better carrying 
on our affairs) without your leave and Permission, threatening 
to do no less than send him home in Irons, from which we 
Immagine you resolve the utter ruine of our Company hopeing 
thereby to promote the Interest of your Employers, the New 
East India Company. 

Wee having no Orders or Instructions to Govern ourselves 
in this matter but the Act of Parliament, which in Perusing 
wee find that there is five per Cent laid on all Goods for the 
Maintaining Embassadors and Consuls, from which our Com- 
pany's excepted till September 1701, which Embassadors and 
Consulls are to be nominated and Elected by the Directors of 
the New Company and sent to such Emperor or Prince in these 
parts as they please, and they to pay the Charge out of the 

1 That is of the two rival Companies. 

2 Wheeler i. * 4 Q. 3 H 

Hedges 3. 54. 


five per Cent, and the remainder to be divided between the 
adventurers, and in a Subsequent Clause 'tis said that nothing 
in this Act shall be Constru'd to extend to hinder or restrain 
our Companys Trade till the 29th of September 1701. Soe that 
they being excus'd from contributing to the Charge of Em- 
bassadors, Consulls &ca, certainly 'twas never intended that 
their affairs in these parts should be subjected to the direction 
or Control of the New Companys Embassadors Consulls or 
Agents dureing their limited time, wee being possesst as the 
rightfull and Lawfull Proprietors of all Phirmaunds and Grants 
necessary for Supporting the Trade which has been procured 
at vast expenses, and without corresponding with the Govern- 
ment 'tis impossible to support our Privileges. 

S r , Wee think your proceedings not only destructive to 
our Masters at Present, but will also prove fatall hereafter : 
if not entail a perpetual ruin on the Trade. To prevent the 
Mischeif that may attend us, and preserve the Interest for which 
wee are Concern'd, we must acquaint you that we resolve to 
persist in Corresponding with the Government as formerly for 
the carrying on of our Trade dureing the Time Limited by 
Parliament, and Order all our Companys Chiefs and ff actors 
under this Presidency to do the Same untill his Majestic Com- 
mands the contrary, or that we receive orders from our Company. 

As for the Injuries you have already done our Company 
and others of the Kings subjects, by Embargoing their Ships, 
(who traded here under their protection) wee doubt not but that 
they will represent it in such places where they may find a remedy 
and Justice. In Confirmation whereof, wee have hereunto sett 
our hands and the Seal of our Company at Fort St. George in 
the City of Madrass, this i6th day of January yH-J. 

Thos. Pitt. 
Francis Ellis. 
R. Braddyl. 
M. Simpson. 
Thorns Marshall. 
John Meverell." 

Norris appears to have sent no rejoinder to this 
forcible letter, which he must have found very 
difficult to answer. Some months afterwards his 
continued coercion and intimidation of the Old 
Company's servants at Masulipatam led Governor 
Pitt and his Council to take a more decisive step 
which effectively stopped him and his Consul from 


any more bullying of this kind. They passed a 
resolution at Fort St George on the I2th of July 
1700 x to make all their subordinate factories " as 
formidable as possible in order to preserve their 
Masters' interest and to protect the persons of their 
servants from any injustice " ; and in pursuance of 
this resolution despatched 24 soldiers with a lieu- 
tenant, sergeant and corporal to Masulipatam to be 
under the command of the Chief and Council there. 
The arrival of these guards relieved Lovell and his 
men from any further fear of violence at the hands 
of the Ambassador and his Consul. 

A month later Norris finally abandoned his design 
of making Masulipatam the starting point of his 
Embassy, and left the Coromandel coast for good, 
proceeding by sea to Surat. It would seem from 
the Diary of Mr Tillard, the second in command 
of the New Company's Council at Masulipatam, that 
the reasons which finally determined him *to take 
this course were the refusal of the local Nawabs to 
give him passes and assistance, and the setting in 
of the rainy season. He left the town with his 
retinue in great state in the midst of a grand pro- 
cession 2 . In the following letter of the igth of 
August 1700 to the Court of Directors of the New 
Company, he has left on record his opinion of Consul 
Pitt and his two chief advisers 3 . 

" ffrom on board the Summers in 
Metchlepatam Road 

August igth 1700. 

You may well be surprised to find me in the Road of 
Metchlepatam, on board the Summers, and may rather believe 
that I have been at the Camp, and finished the Embassy, and 
am now on my Returne for England, than that I am going to 

1 Wheeler i. 351. 

2 Fifteenth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, 
Appendix x. 85. 

. 3 Hedges 3. 57. 


Suratt, in order to gett to the Camp, which as matters have been 
ordered and contrived, could not be effected from this place, 
as well as by the Delays and Treachery of those supposed by 
some to be our best ffriends, as by the Refusall of the Governour 
to obey the Mogulls Dus ticks. 

When I wrote to you last by the Degrave, I was of opinion, 
it might be well advis'd, on some Accounts, that I was directed 
to land here and was promis'd then I should have everything in 
readiness to sett forward, in a little time, but not long after 
was convinc't by many circumstances (as far fatall to the Designe 
of the Embassy, and my Negotiation as Delayes could make 
them) that it was very unfortunate I was ever directed to come 
to this wretched place, and much worse advised to stay here, 
to which add a greater misfortune than both these, that for 
some Months past I could not depend upon that Advice I was 
instructed to follow, in this I mean chiefly the Advice of your 
president, for he alone, having had some Experience of the 
Country, had cheifly the management of the Embassy left to 
him .... but entrusted and put them in such hands that I soon 
found, acted more for the Old Company es Interest then ours, 
and I doubted not had been sufficiently brib'd to doe soe." 

Referring to Eman Cooli Beg and Vincatadre he 
goes on to say : 

" Notwithstanding the Treachery of both of them is as plain 
to me as the noon day, they are both still entrusted and em- 
ployed by the Consull and wee had noe other way left to ridd 
our Selves from this place, then by taking the oppertunity of 
the first convenient Shipp to embarque with our presents, Equi- 
page, baggage &ca for Suratt, and ever since that Resolution 
taken these villanous Fellows have used all Artifices and con- 
trivances and left noe Stone unturned, to divert us from pursuing 
this method, which alone was effectuall to break all their 
Measures ; the Governours themselves, who by Briberyes have 
been induced to disobey the Mogulls orders, are soe alarmed at 
my going to Suratt, which was the only way I ever had of 
quitting this place, and getting to the Camp, and informing the 
Mogull of their proceedings (that they) have used all possible 
means and endeavours to divert me from it, but neither their 
Threats nor their promises nor fear of the Loss of their heads 
should prevaile with me to alter my resolution 

How I have acted both for the Kings and the Nations 
honour and Your Intrest, I leave you to judge, when you are 
thoroughly apprized of all particulars, in the meanwhile must 
acquaint you, and cannot doe it but with great concern, that 


I have mett with more Difficulties and Disappointments than 
I could imagin; and have laboured under those hardshipps it 
was impossible almost to expect ; I hope now I am on board 
I have overcome them, and all will end for the best, and those 
Designes and Artifices, that have been used for our Delay, and 
practized hitherto with success, by the Method taken may turn 
to your advantage, but I must informe you, as pressing as your 
President and Councill at Suratt were, for my embarquing 
thither in order for my more honourable and quick dispatch to 
the Camp, upon advices received, how matters were transacted, 
Your president here has acted as much to the contrary, the other 
way. I was sorry to see him and the Governours that had been 
bribed to disobey the Mogulls Orders still all along pressing the 
same thing. But it is not only in this particular, but in many 
others, that I have suspected the Consull here, not to act for 
your Intrest, as far as the good success of the Embassy may be 
conducing to it. The Consull himself is well aware I suspect 
him, having spoken my mind very freely to him, as I thought 
it My Duty on several! occasions, and has acted in despite of 
whatever has been said to him, in relation to Vincatadre, whom 
he still retains, his Merchant, Chiefe Dubash and Councill, not- 
withstanding the Manifest instances I have given of his Treachery, 
and long since warned him from My presence, which has given 
more besides me, occasion to suspect them both involved in the 
Intrest they were formerly engaged in at Fort St. George and 
too close linked to disunite. Whether he came preingaged by 
the Old Company, to act as he has done, in relation to this 
Embassy, or whether being disappointed of putting vast quan- 
tityes of his own Goods brought from England with that Intent, 
and some other of his ffriends at Fort St. George, to a vast 
amount (in order to augment the presents, which I was at my 
first Landing given to understand were very defective) which 
were often prest upon me to take, and he would answer for the 
Advice and expence which were both Soe extraordinary, that 
I absolutely refused to have anything to do with it ; whether 
this disappointment, with some others, may have sour'd him 
I know not, but I must freely own, I think he has not acted 
with regard to your Intrest in relation to the Embassy, whatever 
he has done in other matters." 

The departure of Norris for Surat must have 
been a great relief to Governor Pitt. So long as 
the Ambassador remained in his Presidency, there 
was always some fear that Warren's squadron might 
at any time return, with orders possibly from the 


Home Government which might compel the Governor 
to abandon his attitude of hostility to the New 
Company and their servants, or even authorise 
Warren to bring him back to England to stand 
a trial for his conduct. For the Old Company, 
though stronger in India, were weaker in London 
than their rivals. Pitt was the first but by no 
means the last Governor in India who had before 
his eyes the fear not only of his employers, but also 
of the English Government for the time being. Had 
the Embassy in its march from Masulipatam 
to the camp of the Mogul met with any disaster, 
he would assuredly have been called to account. 
Now that it had gone off to Bombay, these dangers 
were over for the present, and he might well afford 
to disregard the risk of any material injury that 
his cousin could do to him in Madras. That poor 
man, discredited in the eyes of his employers, had 
been left in a piteous condition at Masulipatam, 
short of funds and overawed by the presence of 
the soldiers, whom the Governor had sent there to 
protect the Old Company's servants. The position 
of Littleton at Hugli was little better. All. that 
remained to be done to complete the discomfiture 
of both was to leave them severely alone. But 
there was always looming in the distance the possi- 
bility of the intervention of the Home Government, 
whose credit was concerned in the support of the 
capitalists, who had been led to advance their two 
millions on the understanding that they would 
thereby obtain the monopoly of the Eastern trade. 
It would be very difficult for the King's Ministers 
to get another loan if the subscribers to the former 
one did not obtain an adequate return for their 
money. Governor Pitt was not likely to overlook 
this aspect of the situation, although for the present 
he seems not unnaturally to have been elated with 




the success which he had achieved. Writing a 
month after the departure of the Ambassador to 
an old friend (Sir Henry Johnson) he says, " I will 
not trouble you with news only tell you that Fort 
St George is in the same place I found it, notwith- 
standing the bounceing of Ambassadors and Consulls. 
They give out that I am a dead man in the Eye of 
the Law, and they say that one of the Kings frigatts 
is to fetch me home, and that there will be Manda- 
muses and the Lord knows what, but lett them Say 
what they will, I am sure they can prove nothing 1 /' 
Before this letter could have reached its destination, 
his employers had written giving him hearty assur- 
ances of their approval and support. In a letter of 
the I7th of January 1701 they say, "We are now 
come to the last part of yours, your assurances of 
firm adhering to our Interests. We are convinced 
of it to the last degree, and on our part give you 
our thanks for the zeal, courage and fidelity you 
have shown, and do Assure you, That we hold 
ourselves obliged to take such care of you as to 
render you Safe from any of those consequences our 
Enemies vainly threaten you withall 2 ." 

It would seem indeed from a letter which he 
wrote to Sir Stephen Evans, that there had been 
some talk of the Company's buying him a Baronet- 
ship or a gold bowl in recognition of his services. 
For he says, " I am very glad, if what I have done 
is to my masters satisfaction, and their bare thanks 
to jne is of far greater value than a Barronetship, 
tho the gold bowle would not have been amisse, and 
should have esteem'd it an honour beyond my merrit, 
for I am sure the worst of my enemies can't say 
that I have left any stone unturned to promote and 
serve their honours Interest ; but I suppose that 

1 Hedges 3. 64. 2 Hedges 3. 65. 


gold bowle mistook its way, and is gone to Surat 
or Some other port, where they better deserve it, 
for I have not heard one word of it but from you 1 /' 
How far the Company's servants at Surat deserved 
the gold bowl will appear in the next chapter. 

1 Hedges 3. 68. 

12 2 



THE misfortunes of the great embassy to the 
Mogul from which so much had been expected by 
the New Company, were far from ended when 
Sir William Norris and his costly retinue left Masuli- 
patam for Surat. Their voyage was anything but 
an agreeable one. It began on the 23rd of August, 
and Surat was not reached till the loth of December* 
Writing to the Court of the New Company from 
St John's on the 5th of the latter month, the 
Ambassador complains that he has had to beat all 
the way against the wind. " This ffatigue," he says, 
"to me and Charge and disappointment to you I 
must impute to your President at Metchlepatam, 
of whom I shall say Nothing further 1 /' He may 
not unreasonably have hoped that Sir Nicholas 
Waite, the King's Consul for the Bombay Presidency, 
who had urged him to come to Surat and represented 
to him the absurdity of trying to reach the Mogul's 
camp from the coast of Coromandel, would serve 
him better than poor John Pitt had done. But if 
he entertained any such expectation, he was doomed 
to bitter, disappointment. The difficulties confront- 
ing both Companies, in common with all European 
traders on the Western shores of India, were greatly 
aggravated by the prevalence of Portuguese and 
English speaking pirates, who persistently preyed 

1 Hedges 3. 60. 


upon the native commerce on its route to Persia 
and the Red Sea. For years past the European 
traders had been suspected by the Mogul of collusion 
with this piracy, and had been held by him account- 
able for it. An arrangement had recently been 
entered into by which the protection of the Red Sea 
had been assigned to the Dutch, that of the Persian 
Gulf to the French, and that of the Southern Indian 
Seas to the English 1 ; and large sums had been 
expended by each of these nationalities with the 
object of putting down the pirates. Shortly before 
Waite's arrival from England, the Mogul had issued 
an order to stop European trade at all his ports 
until security had been given by the Agents of the 
English, French and Dutch factories to pay for 
certain piracies on the Western coast of India ; 
and in the meanwhile an embargo had been placed 
on their ships at Surat, and no European was per- 
mitted to leave the town 2 . In this position of 
affairs Waite had arrived there in January 1700, 
whilst Norris was still at Masulipatam. The situa- 
tion was a very serious one, and called for delicate 
and skilful diplomatic handling. It might well have 
baffled a far abler man than Waite. But it would 
be difficult to conceive any line of action more 
certain to injure permanently the English trade in 
that part of India, or to embarrass the Ambassador 
in the successful conduct of his mission, than that 
which Waite had taken. His main object seems to 
have been to inflict the greatest possible injury on 
the servants of the Old Company and to discredit 
them in the eyes of the native rulers of India, regard- 
less of the fact, of which he should have been well 
aware, that negotiations were pending in London 
for the union of the two Companies, and the con- 
sideration that if he was successful in blackening 

1 Bruce 3. 275. 2 Bruce 3. 307. 


the characters of such of his fellow countrymen as 
had hitherto been engaged in the India trade, the 
discredit would inevitably recoil on himself and 
English traders in general, to say nothing of the 
opportunity he was giving to the native rulers of 
playing off one Company against the other, and 
increasing their demands on both. His high-handed 
attempt to prevent the English flag from being 
hoisted on the Old Company's factory has already 
been narrated. His next step was to write to the 
Mogul accusing the servants of the Old Company 
of being thieves and confederates of the pirates 1 , an 
accusation which promptly elicited from that great 
potentate, who had long entertained suspicions of 
the good faith of the efforts alleged to have been 
made by the European merchants to suppress piracy, 
a peremptory mandate that no servant of the Old 
Company should be permitted to leave the town on 
any pretext whatsoever 2 . The English squadron 
which had conveyed the Ambassador to Masulipatam 
was at this juncture off the Western Coast ; and 
President Colt and the Council of the Old Company 
at Surat appealed to its Commander for protection. 
Captain Warren was now dead. His successor, 
Captain Littleton, seems to have done his best to 
treat the servants of the two Companies with im- 
partiality. But the Mogul's orders on this occasion 
were too explicit to justify his interference ; and as 
a last resource the Old Company's Council induced 
Sir John Gayer, the Governor of the Presidency, 
to leave his fort at Bombay and come to Surat 
with the object of adjusting the differences that had 
arisen between themselves and Waite ; a summons 
to which, most unfortunately for himself, he at once 
responded by hastening to Surat with his wife, Lady 

1 Bruce 3. 371. 

2 Hunter 2. 342. 


Gayer, without taking with him a sufficient escort 
to protect himself and his suite from Waite. He 
reached Surat about a month before the arrival of 
Sir William Norris and his retinue. In the mean- 
while Waite, usurping the functions of the Ambas- 
sador, had on his own initiative entered into negotia- 
tions with the Mogul, offering on behalf of the New 
Company to give security for the safe navigation of 
the Coast trade 1 , and guarantees for the suppression 
of the pirates, an offer which he had no authority 
whatever to make, and which he communicated 
neither to the Court of his Company nor to the 
Ambassador 2 . 

Such was the position of affairs, which the 
Ambassador found awaiting him, when he arrived 
in December at Surat, swelling with a sense of his 
own importance and firmly impressed with the belief 
that he had only to make his appearance there, 
and all difficulties would be removed. ' We shall 
march/' he had written a few months before to 
James Vernon, one of the Secretaries of State, 
" like a small army. I believe I shall set out in 
a greater state and equipage than ever any European 
ambassador yet appeared in India. The machina- 
tions of the Old Company's servants will vanish 
like clouds before the sun, when I come to make 
my appearance 3 /' 

His first act was to call on the Captain of the 
Old Company's ship, which had brought Gayer to 
Bombay, to strike his flag ; his next to bribe the 
Governor of Surat to allow him to make a public 
entry into the town with his retinue. To obtain 
this permission he presented the Governor with 
a gift of 1000 gold mohurs, giving at the 
same time 500 more to the Governor's son, and 

1 Bruce 3. 464. 2 Hunter 2. 355. 

3 Hunter 2. 352. 


a further 200 to two of his principal officers 1 . He 
then formally notified to Gayer, that his Commission 
would be publicly read on the 28th December, and 
required that he and all the English under his 
authority should be present. In answer Gayer dis- 
avowed any dependence on him or Waite. Overtures 
were then made to the servants of both Companies 
by the native Governor, with a view to ascertaining 
which would pay the most for his support. He 
offered the Council of the Old Company to have 
the New Company excluded from the trade, if their 
President would promise three lacs of rupees to 
the Mogul, at the same time informing them that 
Waite had given him a written promise for four 
lacs, and that that promise had been forwarded to 
the Mogul, a statement which was probably false. 
The Council of the Old Company having declined to 
make this payment, Waite 2 , on the 22nd of January 
1701, applied to the Governor to have the London 
Company's servants put in irons, for an insult 
which he asserted had been offered to the Ambas- 
sador. When this demand was refused, Sir William 
Norris himself caused Mr Wyche and Mr Garnett, 
two of the Council of the London Company, and 
Mr Richardson, their Secretary, to be arrested, 
put them in confinement, and then delivered them 
with their hands tied to the Governor, who detained 
them till they found security for their appearance 
before him, when called. Against this outrage on 
English subjects, Sir John Gayer protested on the 
25th of January 1701, declaring the Consul and 
Ambassador responsible for this injustice, and at 
the same time presenting a petition to the Governor 
for his protection, and that he might be allowed to 
take a copy of any accusations against him by the 
New Company, that a true state of the case might 

3- 375- z Bruce 3. 377. 


be presented to the Mogul. Two days afterwards 
Sir William Norris set out from Surat on his journey 
to the Mogul's Court. 

Throughout these proceedings Sir John Gayer, 
an honest and well-meaning man, in his anxiety to 
avoid a civil war at Surat with his fellow countrymen, 
seems to have failed to realise that passive resistance 
and carefully worded protests were thrown away on 
such a ruffian as Waite unless backed up by force. 
Governor Pitt, whom Gayer had consulted on several 
occasions during these proceedings, seems from the 
first to have formed a far more correct estimate of 
Waiters character, and to have foreseen the neces- 
sity of making him to understand clearly, that if 
he had recourse to violence, violence would be 
empktyed against him. So far back as May 1700, 
Pitt had written to Waite a very characteristic 
letter in which he says, " I have been throughly 
informed of your behaviour towards our Masters 
Servants and what I must wonder att is that they 
did not doe themselves justice upon you with their 
own hands. For my part without direct orders from 
the King or from our Company I will have noe 
regard to your powers, nor your Persons, otherwise 
than as you shall deserve by your deportment. 
I perceive you would use your fellow subjects as 
some did in Oliver's days, for which afterwards they 
justly and Severely Suffered " (an allusion to Waite's 
father, Colonel T. Waite the regicide), " and there 
is great probability that yours may be the same 
fate. I wish you as much health and prosperity as 
you doe me 1 /' 

In the following month he had written to Gayer, 
" I could wish he came in the Errand to displace 
me without our Masters consent. And I would 
make him renounce those little honours he pretends 

1 Hedges 3. 51. 


to, as well as make him senceable of the blackest 
of 'dimes, his ingratitude to his old Masters." 

In September he and his Council had written 
again to Gayer, " We wonder at S r Nicholas's 
impudence in confineing one of the Counsell of 
Suratt and Capt Hudson, and doe more the 
Latter did not fall on board him with his ship 
and punish him for his insolence, and had the 
President So contrived to cutt off all those that 
struck the fflagg it would have deterr'd others 
from the like undertaking, and let him have care 
how he begins to turn piratt himself in takeing 
any of our ships, for if he touches a ship belonging 
to this Presidency, wee will Certainly fit out a brisk 
privateer to make reprisall, and shall be very ready 
to Joyn with you on the same accompt 1 ." 

On hearing of the last outrage committed by 
Norris in the following January, he wrote to Colt, 
the Old Company's President at Surat, " Have 
those three gentlemen no resentment, that was 
soe ignominiously punish'd and affronted by S r Wm. 
Norris and afterwards delivered up to the Moors 
Government. Tis pitty there was never a Felton 
amongst them 2 ." 

Writing to Beard, the Old Company's President 
in Bengal in May 1701, with reference to the same 
incident and another which shortly followed it, he 
says, " Our Generall advises you what has happened 
at Surat as to the Moors Seizing S r John Gayer 
and his Lady. President Colt writes me how 
Shamefully they were us'd during the time of their 
being in the Governours house, you'll see ther has 
been brisk doings amongst 'em~ ffor that S r W m 
Norris ^seiz'd two of the Counsell and the Secretary, 
ty'de 'em Neck and heels and deliver'd 'em up 

1 Hedges 3. 60. 2 Hedges 3. 61. 


in Irons to the Governour, which I hope our Masters 
will revenge to the last degree in England, for our 
laws will not allow of it, besides those Gentlemen 
if they have any Courage will write itt in red 
letters upon his Person 1 /' 

There can be little doubt that these outrages 
on the part of Waite and Norris had the effect of 
seriously lowering the prestige of the English, not 
only at Surat, but in other parts of India, Writing 
some two years afterwards to the Court of his 
Company in London, Governor Pitt says, " The 
contests here has made 'em " (the Mahomedan 
Government) "put noe Small Value upon this trade, 
besides your having Suffered your servants to be 
treated after that most ignominious manner at 
Surat for many years past, has encouraj'd 'em 
to attempt the like in all your Settlements, and 
I hear in Bengali that they chawbuck " (i.e. flog) 
" Englishmen in their publick Durbars, which formerly 
they never presumed to doe, and the Junkaneers " 
(revenue collectors) " all over the Countrey are very 
insolent, only those within our reach I keep in pretty 
good order, by now and then giving 'em a pretty 
good banging 2 ." 

Sir William Norris moved off from Surat on 
his journey to the Mogul's camp on the 26th of 
January 1701, with a retinue of 60 Europeans 
and 300 natives 3 . Two days after his de- 
parture Sir John Gayer and his wife and the 
Old Company's servants were seized and imprisoned 
by the Governor of Surat ; and intelligence of 
this fact was sent to the Ambassador by Waite, 
together with an intimation that their Vakeel had 
started for the Mogul's camp to negotiate for them, 
with a credit of two lacs of rupees. This news 
reached Norris on his march, who at once despatched 

1 Hedges 3. 67. 2 Hedges 3. 80. 3 Bruce 3. 404. 


a messenger to Waite, asking to be informed by 
whose authority this further outrage had been 
committed, as this information would be required 
by him in his negotiations with the Mogul. He 
subsequently wrote again to Waite expressing his 
fears that if Gayer and the Old Company's servants 
were released from their confinement, they would 
in revenge for the injuries they had sustained 
blockade the port of Surat, an event which would 
excite the Mogul's anger, and might frustrate the 
objects of the Embassy. He therefore recommended 
that a ship should be constantly stationed off the 
port to prevent this measure being resorted to. 

On the 3rd of March the Embassy reached 
Brampore, the modern Burhanpuri, 470 miles from 
Surat, at which place Asad Khan, the Grand Vizier 
of the Empire, was encamped 1 . It was obviously 
of the utmost importance to conciliate this high 
official, who had for so many years been the Mogul's 
chief officer, and whose influence with him was 
greater than that of any other person. Here the 
Ambassador displayed the greatest want of tact 
by demanding to be admitted to a conference 
with the Vizier, preceded by drums beating and 
trumpets blowing, a demand with which the Vizier 
declined to comply, as being inconsistent with 
Eastern usages on such occasions. Standing 
on his supposed dignity, Norris declined to give 
way, and abruptly left Brampore without a con- 
ference, 'thus wantonly," in the opinion of Sir 
William Hunter, "incurring the enmity of the 
one person^ who might have made the Embassy 
a success 2 ." A month after leaving Brampore, 
he reached the Mogul's camp at Parnella on the 
7th of April, where he obtained the Mogul's permission 

1 Bruce 3. 406. 2 Hunter 2. 358. 


to encamp with his retinue till such time as the 
ceremonial for his audience could be adjusted. 

The date fixed for the audience was the 28th 
of April. Before that day, Norris had received 
information that the Royal Assent had been given 
to an Act of Parliament, which had continued the 
existence of the Old Company as a corporate body, 
so long as the contribution made by their Secretary, 
Mr Dubois, of 315,000 to the 2,000,000 lent to 
the Government as the consideration for the monopoly 
of the Eastern trade remained unredeemed. This 
must have been a heavy blow to him. Some months 
before, on hearing that a Bill for this purpose had 
been introduced, he had expressed a hope and belief 
that it could never pass 1 . " It absolutely contra- 
dicts/' he had written, " what I have in charge 
and am instructed to acquaint the Great Mogul 
with, that the Old Company are to determine 
the 29th of September 1701." Now that he had 
received definite information that the Act had passed, 
it was impossible for him to continue his negotiations 
on the assumption that the New Company would 
be substituted for the Old in the course of the next 
few months. After consultation with the principal 
members of the Embassy, it was agreed that he 
must retract the assertions to this effect which 
he had made not only to the local Governors of the 
several provinces through which he had passed, 
but also to the Mogul's Ministers 2 . This might 
prejudice the negotiations, and excite the suspicions 
of the Mogul that an attempt had been made by 
the Ambassador to deceive him. But there was 
no help for it. 

His difficulties were further augmented by the 
complicated and conflicting directions that he had 
received from his colleagues, the three King's Consuls, 

1 Hunter 2. 361. 2 Bruce 3. 461. 


as to the purport of the separate firmans, which 
they desired him to obtain for their several Presi- 
dencies, notwithstanding the recommendation he 
had himself received from the Court of the New 
Company to obtain one general firman for the three ; 
and by the discovery, which he now made, that 
the charges of his Embassy would exceed the calcula- 
tions of the Court and his own estimate, and that 
each of the three Consuls was endeavouring to 
shift the burden of his expenses on the others, whilst 
all three had become very discontented and did 
not hesitate to express their conviction that the 
success of his negotiations was highly improbable. 
In the meanwhile the Old Company's Armenian 
Vakeels from each Presidency had" made their 
appearance in the camp and were doubtless throwing 
every possible obstacle in his way by discrediting 
him and his Company and distributing presents 
to the Ministers of the Mogul 1 . 

When the day fixed for his audience with the 
Mogul arrived, the Ambassador's spirits must have 
been revived by the magnificence of the procession, 
in which he was permitted to approach the Royal 
Presence. In his letter to Waite describing the 
function, he not only reports that the etiquette 
of the punctilious Court had been so far relaxed, 
that he and his followers had been permitted to 
salute Aurungzeb " after the same manner as we 
would do our own King/' but records with fond 
complacency every detail of that imposing pageant 2 . 
It was headed by an officer on horseback whom he 
calls the Commander of his Artillery, followed 
by 12 carts carrying the 12 brass cannon, 
which the Directors of his Company, as appears 
from their letter to him of the 4th of April 1699, 
had hoped " would sound loudly in the Emperor's 

3. 456. 2 Hunter 2. 354. 


ears and prevail him to grant whatever you shall 
have occasion to ask 1 /' After these came five 
hackeries piled high with English broadcloth 
and other presents. Then 100 " cohurs and 
messures " carrying glassware and looking-glasses 
for presents, followed by four fine Arabian horses, 
two of them richly caparisoned. Then came four 
English soldiers on horseback, guarding the presents. 
After these a grand display of ambassadorial pomp : 
the Union Jack, Red, White and Blue flags, the 
King's and the Ambassador's crests and Coats 
of Arms "very large and gilt, the King's arms re- 
quiring sixteen men to carry them," musicians with 
rich liveries on horseback, a kettle-drum, trumpeters, 
officers and troopers armed and accoutred after 
the English mode ; two state palanquins, one " with 
English furniture of silver tissue brocaded/' and 
the other in which the Ambassador was himself 
borne, " with Indian embroidered furniture." In 
front of it rode his Excellency's Master of the Horse, 
carrying the Sword of State pointed up, and on 
either side two pages richly dressed. His Secretary 
followed in another rich palanquin, carrying the 
King's letter to the Mogul, with an officer on each 
side of him on horseback. A coach, in which were 
two more Secretaries and the Treasurer of the 
Embassy, wearing a golden key, brought up the 

The reception of the Ambassador was very 
flattering. His presents were graciously accepted 
and his request for three separate firmans for the 
three provinces granted. Orders were at once issued 
to the Mogul's Ministers for their preparation. 
In return for these favours Norris proceeded to 
pay Aurungzeb a second ceremonial visit of state, 
at which he ventured to proffer a further present 

1 Bruce 3. 462. 


of 200 gold mohurs, which his Imperial Majesty 
obligingly deigned to receive. It was a proud 
time for Sir William Prodigality, the name by 
which Norris was best known for years after- 
wards by his fellow countrymen in the East. His 
anticipations seemed at last realised. He had 
approached the greatest monarch of the East with 
all imaginable grandeur, and as he had predicted, 
all difficulties seemed for the moment to have 
vanished at his appearance, as clouds before the 

There is no need to assume that the Mogul in 
promising him his three firmans had any intention 
to deceive him, or was not quite prepared to grant 
them for the consideration, which Waite had already 
agreed to give, namely an undertaking that the 
English Company would effectually suppress the 
pirates, and guarantee to make good any losses 
that might be sustained by the natives of India, 
whose ships had been or might hereafter be plundered. 
He would naturally assume that the Ambassador 
was cognisant of this offer and interpret his silence 
with respect to it as consent. In due course the 
documents for carrying it into effect were prepared 
simultaneously with the three firmans, and presented 
for the Ambassador's signature. Nor was it till 
then that Norris seems to have been aware of the 
terribly false position in which he had been placed 
by Waite's officious interference. It was in his 
opinion impossible to assent to the proposal, when 
it was submitted to him. To have done so would 
have been equivalent to throwing the burden at 
present borne by the Dutch, French and English 
nationalities wholly and solely on the New Company. 
But the difficulty of persuading the Mogul and his 
Ministers of this impossibility was insuperable. " If 
your English King," they might well argue, " whom 


you say you represent, is as powerful as you would 
have us believe, why cannot he restrain his subjects, 
who are the chief offenders, from seizing our subjects' 
ships ? Your own officer, Sir Nicholas Waite, sees 
no such difficulty as you suggest." If the Ambassa- 
dor were to reply, and it was the only reply he could 
make, " My officer had no authority to make this 
agreement/' the Mogul's Ministers would not un- 
naturally ask, " Why did you not tell us this before ? ' 
They might also say, "If he is an impostor, what 
security have we got that you are not one also ? 
The Armenian Vakeels from the three Presidencies 
all tell us that they are here on behalf of the real 
Company, which has been trading with us for 
generations and with which we have entered into 
numberless treaties. That Company has persistently 
denounced all other English traders in our country 
as pirates. You told us, when you came here, 
that that Company's powers would expire this 
year. Now you admit that this statement of yours 
is untrue, and that your King has prolonged their 
existence. Which of you is the real Company, 
authorised by your King to trade with us ? Each 
of you says his is, and that the others are pirates 
or in league with the pirates. We have long suspected 
you both of piracy. And now as soon as you are 
asked to sign an agreement to put the pirates down, 
you decline to do so. Before proceeding further, 
we must find out which of you is the real Company ; 
and when that has been done, the real Company 
must give us substantial guarantees that it will 
put down the pirates once for all. It is plain that 
you have both of you grown rich by your dealings 
with the Mogul's subjects. We must now take 
effective measures to ensure that neither of you 
shall rob them any more." 

That some such considerations as these had 
D. 13 


suggested themselves to the Mogul and his advisers 
is probable from the next step they took, which was 
to order two letters to be written, one to " Seid 
Sedula, a Holy Priest at Surat/' to ascertain which 
of the two Companies was really authorised by 
the English King to trade with India, and the other 
to the Governor of Surat, to report on the powers 
and resources of the two Companies 1 . This of 
course led to considerable delay. Its immediate 
effect was to create a brisk competition between 
the Agents of the two Companies at Surat with 
the object of obtaining favourable reports from 
the Priest and the Governor, the former of whom 
agreed to report in Waite's favour, if he was paid 
10,000 rupees, and the latter to obtain the 
three firmans from the Mogul, if he were paid 125,000 
rupees for the first, 62,500 for the second, and 100,000 
for the third on the distinct understanding that 
they were not to be signed until the seas were cleared 
of the pirates. 

In the meanwhile the Ambassador with his 
retinue continued to stay on at Parnella, trying 
in vain to evade the requirements of the Mogul 
by offering a lac of rupees, if the condition for 
the suppression of the pirates were withdrawn, 
an offer which was calculated to confirm rather 
than to remove the suspicion that he was acting 
in collusion with them. At last, on the 28th of 
October, the Mogul told him plainly that " the 
English best knew, if it was their interest to trade, 
and that if he refused to give the obligation, he 
knew the same way back to England as he came." 
Interpreting this ultimatum as a dismissal from 
the Court, Norris asked for " dusticks " or passes 
for Surat, and published a notice that all persons 
having any claims on the Embassy should give 

1 Bruce 3. 466, 467. 


them in within five days, as at that time he proposed 
to commence his journey home. 

The reply of the Mogul's Ministers to this notifica- 
tion, which they seem to have regarded as a mere 
attempt to bluff them, was to send him once more 
the obligation required by the Mogul for his signature. 
He refused to sign it : and having obtained what 
purported to be passes for his return on the 8th 
of November he struck his tents and started on his 
march for the coast, without asking for a final 
interview with the Mogul, a step which seems to 
have been taken as an insult by that great poten- 
tate. By this time the Ambassador's funds must 
have been running very low by reason of the expenses 
of so long a sojourn in the Mogul's camp. Had it 
not been for this fact, he might have remained there 
indefinitely. 'Tis said," Governor Pitt had written 
home to the Old Company on the 27th of October, 
"Sir William is expected at Metchlepatam to embarque 
for England in Jany next, but I am of opinion they 
will hardly part with him soe soon, unless they see 
hee has no more money to spend amongst 'em. 
And 'tis much admir'd by all the great men of this 
country, that the English should bee at the charge 
of sending an Ambassadour to procure grants of 
priviledges of a dying King 1 ." A week or two 
before he had written to his friend Raworth, " Your 
Ambassadour is at the Camp eating rice and Curry 
at the King's charge, and notwithstanding the vast 
expense he has been at wee doe not hear he has 
effected anything, nor will they, I believe, part with 
him till they have suck't him dry 2 ." 

After three days' march Norris was overtaken 
by Mahwood Khan, the Duan of the Deccan, who 
told him he had orders to bring him back, as he 

1 Hedges 3. 70. 2 Hedges 3. 68. 



had set out without the Mogul's permission. On 
the production of his passes he was informed that 
they had been given by an inferior officer without 
the Mogul's leave, and that he must halt for two 
days until the Mogul's pleasure could be ascertained. 
At the expiration of that period, having received 
no counter orders, he resumed his march and reached 
Brampore on the I4th of November, where he found 
the Mogul's chief general Gazedee Khan encamped 1 . 
Here he was detained until the 5th of February 
in the following year, waiting to hear what the 
Mogul's pleasure was. In the end he received 
from the Mogul a letter and a sword for the 
King of England ; and on payment of 2300 
gold mohurs to Gazedee Khan he was permitted 
to proceed on his way to the coast. He 
reached Surat on the I2th of April ; and on the 
29th of that month, after paying a further sum 
of 3000 rupees to the Governor and another 
2000 to his principal officers, was allowed 
to embark with his suite for England. Before 
his ship reached St Helena he died of dysen- 
tery. The expenses of his embassy had amounted 
to 676,800 rupees (about 80,000), a prodigious 
sum in those days, a fatal drain on the slender 
resources of the New Company, which from its 
start had been cruelly crippled by lack of ready 
money for working capital 2 . This huge expenditure, 
so far from bringing any advantage whatever to 
the Company, inflicted very serious injury not only 
on them but on all other European traders in India. 
Eleven days after the Ambassador's abrupt departure 
from his camp, the Mogul caused the following 
order to be issued by his Vizier Asad Khan to all 
the Governors and Viceroys of his provinces : 

1 Bruce 3. 470-472. 

2 Bruce 3. 468. 


" The English and other Europeans having 
entered into a contract to defend our subjects 
from Piracies committed on the seas : notwith- 
standing which they have seized and plundered 
Moors' ships : therefore I have wrote all Subahs and 
Dewans, that all manner of trade be interdicted 
with those nations throughout our Dominions, and 
that you seize on all their effects whatsoever, wherever 
they can be found, and take them carefully in your 
possession, sending an inventory of them to me ; 
and it is likewise ordered that you confine their 
persons, but not to close imprisonment. I write 
this by the King's command, which you are to obey, 
and know that this is a firm decree for so doing, 
an answer to which with the news that relates 
herewith we demand with all expedition 1 /' 

Such was the disastrous result of the ill-conceived 
project of sending a Royal Embassy to the Mogul 
for the purpose of inducing him to grant exclusive 
rights to the New Company. Needless to say, 
the Ambassador himself and his two Consuls, John 
Pitt and Sir Nicholas Waite, all of whom had com- 
mitted mistakes grave enough to have prejudiced 
any prospects of its success, indulged in mutual 
recriminations, each expatiating on the incompetence 
and folly of the others. In Bombay the effect 
of the Mogul's edict was to make the position of 
both Companies, bad as it was before, worse if possible 
than ever. In Bengal, the blow fell most heavily 
on the factors of the New Company in their de- 
fenceless up-country stations at Patna, Kasimbazar 
and elsewhere, who were promptly arrested with 
all their effects, valued at 62,000 rupees, by the 
Mogul's officers in the following February 2 . Little- 
ton himself at Hugli attempted to fortify his chief 

1 Hunter 2. 361; Wilson i. 169; Wheeler i. 386. 

2 Wilson i. 161. 


factory, and was assisted in the task by some of 
the servants of the Old Company, who happened 
to be there and stood by him " for fear of the worst/' 
to quote their own words 1 . The great majority 
of the Old Company's officers in Bengal succeeded 
in making good their retreat with the Company's 
belongings to Chuttannuttee, where Beard had 
lately strengthened the defences of Fort William, 
having been for some time past convinced that it 
was better to spend his Company's money in powder 
and shot and the strengthening of his ramparts 
than to waste it in presents to the local rulers. 

The question that naturally arises in any account 
of Governor Pitt's career is whether he was prepared 
for this sudden and critical emergency, and what 
steps he had been taking to meet it. As late as 
the I7th of October, he had written confidently 
to his old friend Sir Henry Johnson, " Sir William 
Norris is still at the Kings camp, endeavouring 
to doe you all the mischiefe he can, but I believe 
he will be able to effect little or nothing 2 ." Within 
a month, on the i6th of November, the Mogul's 
edict had gone forth, and peremptory orders had 
been sent to Baud Khan, the Nawab of the Carnatic, 
one of his chief generals, to stop all English trade 
in his province ; to arrest all Englishmen and their 
effects, wherever they might be found ; to place 
them in confinement and send to the Mogul an 
inventory of whatever property of theirs he could 
lay his hands on. In pursuance of these orders, 
on the 2gth of January 1702 Daud Khan with 
considerable forces of horse and foot made his 
appearance at St Thome, almost within gunshot 
of Fort St George 3 . 

1 Bruce 3. 481. 
Hedges 3. 65. a Wheeler i. 382. 



THE arrival of Baud Khan at this juncture 
with his army to wreak the Mogul's vengeance 
on the English settlement of Fort St George was 
not the first occasion on which Governor Pitt had 
had an opportunity of making his acquaintance. 
Some months before John Pitt had come out as 
King's Consul to India, Baud, then a general 
in Zulficar Khan's army, had paid a visit to St 
Thome, ostensibly " for the purpose of seeing the 
sea and washing in it," and had asked for accommoda- 
tion at Fort St George 1 . The Governor, who had 
good grounds for suspecting that his designs were not 
altogether friendly, seeing that his brother Zelim 
Khan had plundered certain villages adjoining Fort 
St Bavid and that Baud himself was a commander 
"usually employed on difficult attempts," had 
replied that " he would be welcome provided that 
he did not bring too many men with him." On 
this occasion Baud had presented the Governor 
with a horse valued at 100 pagodas, and received 
in return complimentary presents valued at 300 
pagodas. He had remained in the neighbourhood 
for ten days, in the course of which he was entertained 
with music in the Chapel at St Thome. The day 
after he had left, his younger brother Bahaudar 
Khan, commander of 1500 horse in Zulficar's army, 

1 Wheeler i. 344. 



came and stayed at Fort St George for three days, 
and received presents valued at 100 pagodas. 

The Governor had not unnaturally suspected 
that the visits of these two distinguished officers 
of the Mogul were not altogether due to the attrac- 
tions of Fort St George as a seaside resort and an 
appreciation of the musical church services at 
St Thome ; and he had thought it prudent " that 
the garrison and out town be put in the best posture 
of defence/' He had therefore proceeded " to make 
a levy on the inhabitants of Black Town for building 
a wall, and constructing other works for the defence 
of the town/' These works had been carried out 
at a cost of 1050 pagodas. 

In the July of the following year (1700), whilst 
Sir William Norris was still at Masulipatam, Daud, 
who seems to have had a pleasing recollection of the 
excellence of the Governor's cellar, wrote to Governor 
Pitt with a request to buy him some liquors. The 
Governor " supposing his interest might be of 
advantage to the Company in those parts 1 /' ordered 
six dozen of French brandy, six cases of spirits 
and two chests of Syr ash to be sent to him. These 
seem to have been so much to Baud's taste that 
during the next six months he wrote several letters 
of compliment to the Governor, asking " for various 
sorts of liquors, which accordingly were sent to 

On the i5th of January 1701, about the time 
when Sir William Norris was starting from Surat 
for the Mogul's camp at Parnella, the news arrived 
at Fort St George that Daud, who had by that 
time been appointed by the Mogul Nawab of the 
Carnatic and Gingi countries, had come to Arcot, 
about four days' march from the Fort. Two days 
later the following entry appears in the Consultation 

1 Wheeler i. 353. 2 Wheeler i. 360. 




Book of the Fort : " It being the custom of all 
Europeans to present all Nabobs and Governors 
when they come first to their Government, in order 
to procure a confirmation of their privileges, besides 
at present we are carrying on a great investment 
here and at Fort St David, and have a great deal 
of money spread up and down the country : further 
a few days ago we have advice from Surat by 
Armenian letters that our affairs are embroiled 
there : all of which induces us to consider of a con- 
siderable present for the Nabob and Dewan and 
their officers, and fitting persons to send with it : 
though before we heard the news from Surat, we 
intended to have sent two Englishmen, but altered 
our resolution, not knowing but that the troubles 
there may affect us here. So there being one 
Senor Nicholas Manuch, a Venetian and an inhabitant 
of ours for many years, who has the reputation 
of an honest man, besides he has lived at the King's 
Court upwards of thirty years, and was a servant 
to one of the Princes, and speaks the Persian language 
excellently well : for which reasons we think him 
the properest person to send at this time with our 
Chief Dubash Ramapah, and have unanimously 
agreed with the advice of all capable of giving it, 
to send the presents : so in order to their setting 
out tomorrow on their journey, we have delivered 
them our instructions and letters as entered after 
this consultation/' 

The presents for Baud Khan on this occasion 
were valued at 1700 pagodas, and those for his 
Duan Mahomed Seid at 190 pagodas, sums which, 
as Governor Pitt must have been well aware, fell 
very far short of those which Baud's predecessor 
Zulficar Khan had received from Governor Yale 
on a similar occasion. The two envoys were in- 
structed now to ask from Baud first a confirmation 


of the privileges conferred by his predecessor : 
secondly, the redress of certain grievances, of which 
the merchants trading with the Fort had lately 
complained, the most important of which were 
the imposition of additional customs duties, and 
the stoppage of their goods by the native officials 
on their way to the coast from the interior : and 
thirdly, the abandonment by Baud's officers of 
all claims on behalf of the Mogul in respect of the 
wrecks of English ships on that coast. From a 
memorandum given by Governor Pitt to the envoys, 
it is clear that he was aware of the mischief which 
his cousin John Pitt had been doing, by the dis- 
semination among the native merchants of the 
suggestions that as Fort St George was only a 
trading station, the Governor had no right to fortify 
it, and that it was unreasonable that the Mogul's 
officers should allow him to collect revenues from 
the natives 1 . The memorandum in question is thus 
worded : 

" From the various reports that have been and are still 
going, we have reason to believe several things will be objected 
against us, knowing that this place is not only envied by the 
Country Governors, but by all Europeans too. We therefore 
as a memorandum give you the following advice. 

If anything be said about our revenues, which are generally 
magnified four times as much as they are, it is to be answered, 
that it is paid by none but our own inhabitants who are enriched 
by our trade solely, and are daily getting money from us ; which 
had long ago ruined us, had not we set up revenues to regain 
some money from them towards defraying our main charges. 

If anything be said in relation to our making fortifications, 
t may be answered, that we are always, when new Governors 
come, pulling down one thing and building another and re- 
pairing 2 ." 

It is very unlikely that Pitt thought it probable 
that Daud Khan would regard the presents sent 
him as adequate, and at once concede what was 

1 Bruce 3- 442. 2 Wheeler i. 363. 


n] BAUD KHAN 203 

asked of him. He was thoroughly acquainted with 
the methods of Eastern diplomacy ; and he must 
have fully recognised the difficulties of the situation 
in which he had been placed by the malicious insinua- 
tions of his cousin the King's Consul. He would 
also not unreasonably expect that the King's Ambas- 
sador when he arrived at the Court of the Mogul 
would indulge in similar misrepresentations. A 
weaker man might have thought it prudent in such 
a crisis to offer Baud Khan more liberal terms. 
But the Governor no doubt felt that too generous 
an offer would inevitably be regarded as an indication 
of weakness and that the more he offered Baud, the 
more he would be asked to give. He therefore 
sent the Nawab what he considered an adequate 
though by no means an unduly liberal present, 
whilst at the same time he was careful to omit 
no act of Eastern courtesy to which Baud was 

He gave his envoys two letters, one to be delivered 
to Baud with his public presents, and the other 
to be handed to him privately afterwards with a 
further present of 3000 rupees. The first of these 
letters was thus worded : 

" To Dawood Khan, Nabob. I have with great impatience 
waited for your arrival at Arcot which being informed of two 
days ago I celebrated with great joy, preparing my people to 
wait on you with such acknowledgements of respect as I was 
capable of providing. A list of which comes enclosed, whereof 
I humbly request your Excellency's acceptance, and what I add 
to it is, my hearty wishes for your good health and prosperity, 
and a long continuance in your Government. 

Thomas Pitt." 

The second letter was as follows : 
"To Dawood Khan, Nabob. I congratulate your Excellency's 
arrival at Arcot and have sent Mr Manuch, and our Eggb 
Ramapah to confirm the same, and to give me an account of 
your good health, and to request your Excellency's favour to 
us in confirming our ancient privileges at Chinnapatam and 



Tevenapatam." (Forts St George and St David.) " I wish 
your Excellency all health and prosperity, and a long con- 
tinuance in your Government, under which I doubt not but 
all will be happy. 

Thomas Pitt." 

The next entry in the Consultation Book relating 
to this mission "is dated Thursday, the 3oth of 
January. " Senor Manuch and Ramapah," it says, 
" advising us that the Nabob, hearing of a Persian 
mare that was to be sold in our town, ordered them 
to write us about it, he being desirous to buy it ; 
but we well knowing their manner of buying and 
what is meant by it, and not being willing to disgust 
him about so small a matter, we bought the mare 
for two hundred pagodas, and it is ordered that 
the Steward forthwith provide furniture in order 
to her being sent our Agents at the Camp tomorrow." 

Four days later, the following entry was made 
in the Consultation Book : 

" Monday 3rd February. Last night Senor Manuch and 
Ramapah, returning from the Camp, this day they appeared 
before us in Council to give an account of their proceedings, 
which is as follows. That when they came to the Camp, they 
waited on the Nabob, he having sent ten horse and fifty foot 
to conduct them, who received them kindly, and ordered them 
to send for their present, which he accepted of : but the next 
day he returned it, except some trifles, he giving broad hints 
that it was not a sufficient present for him, and that his pre- 
decessor had ten times as much : he also inveighing against us 
in scurrilous language, reaping up the business of Fort St David's, 
how we had killed Selim Khan's brother, and threatening revenge 
upon it. But two days after, our agents having by their appli- 
cation to some of the principal officers in some measure pacified 
the Nabob, Dewan and Buxie, he sent again for his present, but 
still told them it was not near enough for him, he having been 
at Court, where it had cost him a great deal of money for his 
employ, which he must and would raise by some means or other : 
telling us that he had an account of our revenues, culculating 
them at about one hundred thousand pagodas per annum : 
that we had nothing to do with Blacktown, in which he would 
put a Governor, and constrain us to keep only to our Fort. 

xii] BAUD KHAN 205 

He also daily encouraged unjust complaints against us, telling 
us that he would first go to Tan j ore, Tevenapatam " (Fort St 
David) " and then come to St Thome, when he would ruin this 
fort. After all which he dismissed our agents without any 
Perwanna or Tasheriff 1 to the Governor as usual, and writ us 
only a letter referring to that they should tell us, and the Dewan 
the same, the Dewan also signing an insignificant Perwanna." 

The letter in question was as follows : 

" From Dawood Khan to the Governor of Chinnapatam. 
I wish the Governor all health. I received the friendly letter 
ou sent me by Doctor Manuch and your Vakeel, and observe 
the contents thereof, and have likewise heard their request, and 
've given them my answer thereto, which they will acquaint 
with. Pray write me often of your health." 

The entry in the Consultation Book proceeds : 

" Our people meeting with the mare we sent the Nabob on 
the way brought her back with them. They also inform us that 
they were told by several at the Camp, that this dislike of the 
abob to us is occasioned through information by some people 
~ our own town, who not only make their court by it, but also 

rticipate a part of what can be extorted from us, who when 
liscovered, we resolve shall pay not only for the present mis- 
chief, but what has passed in former times. 

So having well debated and considered of what we have 
now been informed as to the demands and expectations of the 
Nabob, it is unanimously resolved that no further present be 
made to him, unless it be so trivial a sum as not worth our 
disputing : otherwise we shall entail an excessive charge upon 
the Company for ever, for if a new Nabob should be sent every 
month, they would expect the same. It is further agreed that 
our Garrison be put and kept in the best posture of defence 
it is capable of, resolving to stand the event, and advise Fort 
St David to do the same." 

It was also resolved to write in the meantime 
to Asad Khan, the Mogul's Grand Vizier, and also 
to Zulficar Khan, Daud's predecessor, " representing 
the ill-treatment of our Agents sent to Dawood 
Khan and his unreasonable demand upon this 

1 A complimentary present. 

20 6 DAUD KHAN [CH. 

Five months passed after this resolution before 
Daud Khan fulfilled his threat of marching on 
Fort St George. In the interval the Governor 
had strengthened his scanty native force by replacing 
some of the peons with rajpoots, ' they being/' 
to quote from the Consultation Book, " people most 
to be relied upon in time of trouble/' Accompanied 
by two members of his Council, he had also himself 
carried a relief force of 30 men from his scanty 
garrison with necessaries and stores on board the 
Advice frigate to Fort St David, where the Deputy 
Governor, Mr William Fraser, who was in command 
there, was threatened with an attack by Daud. 
Daud in the meanwhile seems to have gone the round 
of his province, collecting what he could extort 
from one source and another to recoup the moneys 
he had paid at Court for his appointment. His 
progress completed, he came back to St Thome 
in pursuance of his promise to get what he could 
out of the English at Fort St George. At the worst 
the Governor might be relied upon to offer him 
again the present which he had declined to accept 
in January and to furnish him with a further supply 
of the European liquors he so much loved. At the 
best he might be induced to pay a handsome con- 
sideration for the confirmation of the existing 
privileges of the Old Company in that part of India, 
and for permission to continue his taxation of the 
Mogul's subjects at Black Town. It is not likely 
that Daud as yet had been authorised to attack 
the Fort by the Mogul or the Grand Vizier to whom 
the Governor had written for protection. Negotia- 
tions were still pending at Parnella with the English 
Ambassador, and Aurungzeb had not yet made up 
his mind as to which of the two Companies he would 
support against the other. These facts should not 
be overlooked in perusing the following narrative 




of the events of the next fortnight as detailed in 
the Consultation Books of the Fort. 

" Wednesday 2nd July. This day Dawood Khan coming 
to St Thome, we sent Narrain 1 to wait on the Dewan, to know 
what would be the properest time to attend the Nabob with our 
present ; who in the evening returned and brought us word that 
the Dewan advised us tomorrow morning 2 . 

The Garrison being in good order, the Governor gave 
directions to be very strict in their duty, and keep both com- 
panies to their arms, to prevent surprise, and ordered the Gunner 
to shot all the Guns upon the works towards St Thome. 

Thursday 3rd. We having agreed the amount of the 
present to the Nabob, Dewan and Buxie, and Mr Ellis offering 
himself to go with it, it was agreed that he and Mr Davenport 
should go, with Captain Lambert : the latter out of curiosity 
being desirous to see the Nabob. And it is ordered that Narrain 
and the Moollah should go with them as Linguists. So about 
ten this morning they set out attended by a Serjeant and three 
files of Grenadiers. 

The Linguists going directly to the Dewan to give an 
account of the presents for himself, the Nabob and the Buxie, 
he complained that the ready money for the Nabob was too 
little : so desired that the Persian mare might be returned, and 
two half pieces of yellow cloth, and that the Nabob might have 
one thousand rupees instead of it. Of which Mr Ellis ac- 
quainted the Governor by note, who with the advice of the 
Council sent them one thousand rupees. 

About eight this night Mr Ellis and the others returned 
from St Thome, acquainting us of the odd reception they had 
from the Nabob, and that he had returned all his presents except 
two parrots : and that the Dewan accepted of the cloth and 
other things, but the money intended for him was brought 
back they not having an opportunity to give it him after 
their visiting the Nabob. All the Buxie's present was likewise 
brought back, and one of the Grenadiers died so soon as returned 

The Council to be summoned to meet at seven o'clock 
tomorrow morning with the Commanders of the Europe ships 
to consult what is most proper to be done to reinforce the 
Garrison and prevent the Nabob from doing us any mischief. 

Friday 4th. We being informed by people that we keep at 

1 Described in other parts of the Consultation Book as the 
Governor's Brahmin spy. 

2 Wheeler i. 369-380. 

2 o8 DAUD KHAN [CH. 

St Thome, that after Mr Ellis and the others came away last 
night, the Nabob at his Durbar, in discourse about this place, 
was saying that ten thousand pagodas should not excuse us : 
reflecting upon the amount of our revenues, and particularly 
upon the Tobacco and Betel, and our building the Blacktown 
wall and divers other things. From which we infer that we must 
expect no favour from him : for yesterday of his own accord he 
told our Linguists that he had sent four Chobdars and twenty- 
five men as a safeguard to prevent any of his army from pillaging 
our villages (Egmore, Persewankum and Triplicane). Notwith- 
standing which they fell in upon one this morning and carried 
off a great quantity of straw and firewood. Whereupon the 
Governor wrote the Nabob and Dewan the following letters: 

' To Nabob, Dawood Khan, at St Thome" . 

Your Excellency on coming to St Thome was so just and 
generous as to appoint your own people to guard our towns, to 
prevent their being plundered, which occasioned my not sending 
any of my own people : but I am just now informed that your 
men have fallen in on the towns and plundered them, which is 
contrary to the trust reposed in your Excellency's word and 

Thomas Pitt.' 

' To the Dewan, Mahomed Seid, at St Thome. 

It is a great satisfaction to me that we have a person of 
your honour and worth to be our friend ; for which acknow- 
ledgements shall never be wanting. 

The Nabob out of his own generosity appointed guards for 
our towns which prevented our sending some of our own ; but 
this morning, contrary to his word of honour, his people are 
plundering them. I am unwilling to occasion troubles in the 
King's country, therefore I write to your honour, his Majesty's 
Dewan. What can I write more ? 

Thomas Pitt.' 

We considering that if there be not a stop put to these un- 
reasonable demands of Nabobs, that the ill consequences will 
in a little time be no less than a vast annual charge to this 
place : and we all unanimously concluding this to be a proper 
time to withstand them, being informed that his army consists 
of no more than three thousand horse and seven thousand foot, 
we think ourselves in a condition with the force we have and 
can raise, to baffle him if he offers to make any attempt upon 
us. So by order of the Governor and Council, and advice of 
the Commanders of the Europe ships and Commission Officers 
of the Garrison, it is resolved that the following measures be 
taken : 

xii] BAUD KHAN 209 

ist. That the Europe ships tomorrow morning land men 
according to charter party, viz. fifty out of the Bedford, thirty 
from the Duchess, thirty from the Phoenix, which will make 
a good Marine Company. 

2nd. That the Trained Bands of this place be tomorrow 
raised, and that Captain Heron be appointed Captain, Mr. Berlu 
be Lieutenant and Mr. Wigmore be Ensign. 

3rd. That about one hundred and twenty of the Portuguese 
inhabitants are to be immediately raised and armed and formed 
into a Company, and be commanded by Captain Emmanuel 
de Silva. 

4th. That the Paymaster entertains one hundred Peons 
to be out as Scouts for intelligence, and reinforce our best 
watching places. 

5th. That all the Company's cloth be brought in from 
the washers, washed and unwashed, to prevent its being plun- 
dered : and that the likeliest men of the watches be armed and 
posted in our out villages. 

So all the preparations we are capable of being made for 
the defence of the place, we resolve that if the Nabob will not 
accept of the present we first proffered him that he shall have 

Monday 7th. The Governor and Council, with the advice 
of the Commanders of the Europe ships and Commission Officers 
of the Garrison, quartered the men and appointed their par- 
ticular posts, it being very hotly reported that the Nabob is 
making great preparations to come against us. 

Our Moollah at St. Thome advises that in conference with 
the Dewan this day, the Dewan told him that he feared some 
ill event if we sent not ten thousand pagodas : and that sum 
rould effectually procure all we requested. Whereupon answer 
ras returned the Moollah, to be imparted to the Dewan, that 
we expected no new grants only a confirmation of our perwannas 
in possession, and that we could not add anything to what 
first sent. 

Tuesday 8th. The Governor receiving this day a letter 
from the Dewan, acquaints the Council therewith, translate 
whereof is entered after this consultation ; the purport being 
to advise us that he had appeased the anger of the Nabob, who 
would now accept our present, which we intend shall be sent to 
him tomorrow morning. 

' From Dewan Mahomed Seid. 

My constant prayers to Heaven is for peace and quietness 
to the whole world, and it is my endeavour to forward the same, 
when it lies in my power. Accordingly I did the utmost to 

D. 14 


appease the Nabob, which is now effected, and he satisfied. 
You may now send one of your trusty Englishmen with Narrain 
and Moollah and the present which was returned, which I will 
see presented and procure their dispatch : as it is my temper 
to make up all differences so your Honour may rest assured of 
me for your mediator. What else material Coja Ahmed will 
inform you/ 

Wednesday gih. The Governor and Council being met, 
dispatched away the presents that were returned, with Narrain 
and our Moollah ; adding to the Nabob's present a Looking 
Glass, a China Lanthorn, two China Chests and a Dog to a Dog " 
(? a china ornament with two dogs) " the Governor answering 
the Dewan's letter as follows. 

' To Dewan Mahomed Seid at St. Thome. 

I heartily join with your Honour in wishing peace and 
quietness to the whole world, and shall always do what lies in 
my power to effect the same, when it is to be had on honourable 
and just terms. I have sent Narrain and Coja Ahmed with the 
present that was returned desiring that it may be delivered as 
was first designed. I shall always acknowledge your Honour's 
favour, and proclaim you to the world to be a man of honour 
and justice. July gth 1701. 

Thomas Pitt.' 

Thursday loth. Narrain and the Moollah returned about 
one o'clock this morning from St. Thome, and gave us the 
following account. 

That the Nabob received his present very kindly with 
great expressions of friendship and sent a Horse and Tasheriff 
to the Governor. That the Dewan had received his present, 
but told them that he had added 1,500 Rupees of his own to the 
Nabob's to make it more acceptable (the meaning of which we 
well understand) and told them that if Coja Ahmed and our 
Moollah should come tomorrow, he would give him Perwannas 
for confirmation of our privileges. 

This sudden alteration happening makes us fear a snake in 
the grass and resolve that we will not disband any of our forces 
till his army marches. 

Friday nth. This day the Nabob sent us word that to- 
morrow himself, the Dewan and Buxie would dine with us, and 
desired to know with what attendance we would admit him. 
We would fain have evaded it, but the messenger he sent pressing 
us so hard for a direct answer, we sent him word that the honour 
was too great to desire it, and greater than we expected, and 
if he was pleased to come, he should be very welcome and we 

xii] BAUD KHAN 211 

be ready to receive him in the Garrison with one hundred horse. 
So all imaginable preparation is ordered to be made, and Messrs. 
Marshall and Meverell (two of the Council) attended with ten 
Files of Grenadiers ordered to meet him at Mr. Ellis's Garden 
to conduct him into town. 

Saturday I2th. About twelve this noon the Nabob, the 
King's Dewan and Buxie were conducted into town by Messrs. 
Marshall and Meverell : the streets being lined with soldiers from 
St. Thome Gate up to the Fort, and the works that way manned 
with the Marine Company handsomely clothed with red coats 
and caps, all which made a very handsome appearance. The 
Governor attended with the Council, the Mayor, the Commanders 
of the Europe ships and some of the Principal Freemen, received 
him (the Nabob) a little way out of the Gate of the Fort ; and 
after embracing each other, the Governor presented him with 
a small ball of Ambergrease cased with gold and a gold chain 
to it, and then conducted him into the Fort and carried him up 
to his lodgings : when after sitting some time the Nabob was 
pleased to pass very great compliments upon us, commending 
the place, as to what he had hitherto seen of it, and gave us all 
assurance of his friendship : after which the Governor set by 
him two cases of rich cordial waters, and called for wine, bidding 
him welcome by firing 21 pieces of Ordnance. Soon after the 
Governor drank to him the Mogul's health with 31 pieces of 
Ordnance : and the principal Ministers of State (our friends), as 
also the Nabob, Dewan and Buxie with 21 pieces of Ordnance 
each : all which healths the Nabob pledged in the cordial waters. 
So soon after the Dinner being ready, which was dressed and 
managed by a Persian inhabitant, the Governor conducted the 
Nabob into the Consultation room, which was very handsomely 
set out in all respects, the dinner consisting of about six hundred 
dishes, small and great, of which the Nabob, Dewan and Buxie 
and all that came with him, eat very heartily, and very much 
commended their entertainment. After dinner they were 
diverted with the dancing wenches. The Nabob was presented 
with cordial waters, French brandy and embroidered China 
quilts, all which he desired. The Dewan upon his promising 
us a Perwanna had a Ruby ring. The Buxie had one likewise 
offered to him, but refused it, and seemed all day out of humour 
occasioned, as we are informed, by some words that had passed 
this day between the Nabob, Dewan and him before they came 

About six in the evening they returned to St. Thome, the 
Governor and Council and gentlemen in town, with the Com- 
manders of the Europe ships waiting on them without the Gate 
of the Fort ; where they mounted their horses and were attended 




by Messrs. Marshall and Meverell to the place they received 
them, and at their going out of St. Thomas's Gate were saluted 
with 31 pieces of Ordnance. 

Messrs. Marshall and Meverell returning, acquainted the 
Governor that the Nabob desired tomorrow morning to go 
aboard one of the Europe ships, and in order thereto that six 
Mussoolas might be sent to Triplicane : which was accordingly 
done, and the English ships boats ordered to attend him. 

Sunday I3th. About seven o'clock this morning Messrs. 
Marshall and Meverell went to Triplicane, in order to wait on 
the Nabob aboard the English ships, and the commanders went 
off to receive him but the Nabob having been very drunk over 
night was not in a condition to go and deferred it till tomorrow 

The Breakfast we intended aboard ship for the Nabob, was 
sent to St. Thome, which he accepted very kindly. 

This day the Buxie sent to the Governor to desire leave to 
come into town to dine with a Persian of his acquaintance, and 
afterwards that he might see the Company's Garden, which was 
accordingly granted : where we sent Narrain to wait on him and 
see whether he was in a better humour than yesterday, and to 
present him with the Ring which he refused, with a gold Snuff 
box, both to the value of seventy five Pagodas : both which he 
accepted, declaring that he had no resentment against the 
English, but should be ready to serve them on all occasions, 
but he thought in the management of these affairs the Dewan 
had not done fairly by him. 

The friendship of the Buxie is not so much desired for the 
Post he is now in, but that he is of very good family and has 
many relations near the King. 

Monday I4th. We had several alarms from St. Thome 
that the Nabob was going on board ship, but his mind altered, 
and then he desired to see the Company's Garden, which we used 
all means to divert him from by reason in going to it he must 
have had a view of all the weakest part of the town. This day 
he sent word to the Governor that he was informed from Abdul 
Labby, Governor of Chillambaram, that our Deputy Governor of 
Fort St. David protected the King's enemies : and desired that 
we would take care that the like be not done for the future. 
The Governor answered that he would immediately write to 
Fort St. David about it, which was accordingly done. 

Tuesday I5th. This morning the Nabob sent word to the 
Governor that he would make him a visit at the Company's 
Garden : whereupon Narrain was sent to endeavour to divert 
nrni from it, which if he could not do, then to advise the time 
of his coming. So Narrain about twelve at noon sent to the 




Governor to acquaint that the Nabob was coming with a great 
detachment of horse and foot with all his elephants, and what 
he meant by it he could not imagine. So the Governor ordered 
immediately to beat up for the Train bands and the Marine 
Company, and drew out a detachment of one hundred men 
under Captain Seaton to attend him and those gentlemen of the 
Council who went to the Garden to receive the Nabob. But 
Narrain seeing the Nabob coming in such a manner, told him it 
would create a jealousy in the Governor, and desired him to halt 
until he sent the Governor word and received his answer. But 
before the answer came, the Nabob was got into a Portuguese 
Chapel very drunk and fell asleep, and as soon as he waked, 
which was about four o'clock in the afternoon, he ordered his 
Camp to march towards the little Mount, where he pitched his 
tents, and sent to the Governor to excuse his not coming to the 
Garden, and desired him to send a dozen bottles of cordial waters 
which were sent to him. 

Wednesday i6th. This morning our spies writing us that the 
Nabob with his army continued encamped at the little Mount, 
made us unwilling to disband any of our forces. 

Thursday i7th. This day the spies from the Camp advise 
that the Nabob was marched with his army about a mile on the 
other side of Poonamallee." 

So Baud and his army and his elephants went 
on their way ; and the English at Fort St George 
saw them no more for another six months, at the 
end of which time they came back again with greatly 
increased numbers on a far more serious errand 
than the mere obtaining of an adequate compli- 
mentary present for the Nawab. For they came 
now by'the express orders of their master Aurungzeb 
for the purpose of putting an end to all European 
trade in India, and with explicit directions to arrest 
and imprison every Englishman they could lay 
their hands upon, confiscate his property and send 
it forthwith to the Mogul. 



THAT Governor Pitt had some intimation of 
the coming danger is clear from the following extract 
from the Consultation Book of Fort St George, 
written some three weeks before the arrival of 
Daud and his army : 

" Wednesday, 7th January 1702. We being jealous from the 
reports of the country as well as cautions given us from Surat, 
that the Mogul Government design us troubles, and being appre- 
hensive the worst they can do is to stop trade and provisions 
by land, and commit devastations on our towns, which lie a 
small distance from us, and considering we are not able to protect 
them by detaching foot forces on all occasions, for that by the 
extremity of heat they are incapable of marching and doing 
service afterwards, experience of which hath already lost many 
lives. Wherefore we have resolved to give encouragement 
as formerly to all the Company's servants to keep horses, and 
to allow fifty fanams per mensem towards the charge thereof to 
commence from the ist of February next. In consideration 
of which all such horses and their accoutrements shall be for 
the service of the Garrison and to be sent upon any expedition 
the Government shall think fit, but if such horses shall be killed 
or spoiled in the service of the garrison, they are to be paid for 
by the Honble Company and to be valued by the Governor 
and Council or such indifferent persons as they shall appoint 
to do the same 1 /' 

The responsibilities of the Governor at this 
crisis were very serious. He had under his charge 
not only the European community of Madras, 
consisting of some 200 men, women and children, 

1 Wheeler i. 381. 


but also a native population of over 300,000, a con- 
siderable section of which was probably more or less 
disaffected, and very few of whom could be relied 
upon to give him any assistance against the enemy. 
His garrison consisted of two companies of regulars 
with a captain, lieutenant and ensign, who were sup- 
plemented in time of need by the Trainbands and 
Portuguese militia, and a very limited number of 
native troops. The defences of the settlement would 
not have been regarded even in that age as formid- 
able by any European force. That the Governor was 
fully aware of some of their worst defects is evident 
from the anxiety which he had displayed some six 
months before, when Daud had proposed to visit 
the Company's garden, from whence he would " have 
had a view of all the weakest part of the town." 
The fort itself is described by Malleson 1 , as having 
been forty-five years later " an oblong some 400 
yards by 100, surrounded by a slender wall, defended 
by four bastions and four batteries, very slight 
and defective in their construction, and with no 
outworks to defend them/' Black Town was sur- 
rounded by a still weaker wall, which would have 
presented no obstacle whatever to an European 
army. It had originally been constructed, in Yale's 
Presidency, of mud, coated with turf 2 . Many parts 
of it had been washed away by the rains, from time 
to time : and it had lately been decided to replace 
it by a substantial permanent brick-faced wall, 
which had been commenced in 1700, but was not 
completed until 1707. It can therefore have afforded 
but a very precarious defence at the time of this 
blockade. Moreover, the houses in Black Town came 
up almost to the walls of the fort, and would have 
enabled any enemy who got into the town to approach 
under the cover which they afforded to within a 

1 Malleson i. 140. 2 Vestiges of Old Madras, 2. 7-10. 


few yards of the fort without coming under fire 
from its guns. Forty-five years afterwards the 
place was taken by the French without the loss 
of a single man. But Governor Pitt was no doubt 
aware that the army which he had to face had no 
artillery ; and it is clear from the entries in the 
Consultation Book that he had no expectation 
that the Nawab's troops would venture to expose 
themselves to the fire of his batteries, far less attempt 
to take the fort itself by storm. What he must 
have known he was in for was a siege of uncertain 
duration, which would involve the stoppage of the 
Company's trade and the supply of provisions 
from the land. Fortunately for him the monsoon 
season was just over, so that he might reasonably 
expect for the next few months supplies by sea, 
which would suffice for the more urgent needs 
of the garrison and the European community. 
The blockade was not unlikely to be a protracted 
one, in the course of which what he had most to 
fear was the guile of a treacherous foe, who would 
be informed of everything that happened in the 
city by such of the native population of Black Town, 
as were in league with the besiegers. 

Before the month was out, intelligence of the 
approach of Daud and his army was brought to 
the Fort by his spies, as appears from the following 
entry in the Consultation Book 1 : 

" Wednesday, 28th January. Early this morning set out our 
Moollah for the Nabob Dawood Khan's Camp (he having wrote 
the President to send him and Narrain) to remain there as our 
Vakeel : who had verbal instructions to answer the complaints, 
should any be made against us of what kind soever. It being 
advised by our spies that the Nabob with his army are near 
and upon their march to St Thome, but their design not known. 
Also sent in our Moollah's Company, the Nabob's Gusbadar 

1 Wheeler i. 382-385. 


whom he had sent to us some days past for liquors, and carried 
forty bottles of brandy distilled here with all manner of spices." 

It may be inferred from the latter part of this 
entry that in view of approaching emergencies 
the Governor had no mind to deplete his cellar 
of his best French brandy and European liquors 
for the benefit of his opponent, though he was quite 
willing to bestow upon him a liberal supply of some 
villainously coarse spirit distilled at the Fort, the 
inferior quality of which was disguised by a plentiful 
admixture of spices. Knowing as he did Baud's 
tastes and propensities, it would have been difficult 
to have chosen a more appropriate present on the 
outbreak of hostilities. 

The next three days' entries in the Consultation 
Book are as follows : 

" Thursday 2gth. Nabob Dawood Khan, Dewan and Buxie 
arriving this night at St Thome with considerable forces of 
horse and foot ; and the occasion of their coming being variously 
reported, and we being jealous that there are ill designs on foot 
against this place ; to prevent their effecting which, we resolve 
to make ourselves as formidable as possible, for which end have 
taken the following resolutions, viz, 

That the Trainbands of this city be immediately raised. 

That tomorrow morning the Portuguese Militia be raised 
and posted at the outworks. 

That both our Company soldiers lie at their arms night 
and day during the encampment next us. 

That two hundred Rajpoots be taken into sendee, to guard 
our out towns and the Company's cloth at the washers. 

That what Lascars, not exceeding 60 or 70, be entertained 
to assist the Governor. 

That tomorrow morning our Brahmin Paupa be sent to 
our Moollah in the Nabob's Camp ; and both of them go with 
a compliment from the President to the Nabob, Dewan and 
Buxie and carry with them a small present of Rosewater, Acheen 
oranges and sweetmeats. 

About eleven o'clock this night received advices from our 
Moollah that he had waited on the Nabob, who seemed very 
pleasant but the Dewan otherwise : and that the Nabob had 
something to say to him tomorrow. 


Friday 3oth. This day our Moollah and Brahmin Paupa 
waited on the Nabob, Dewan and Buxie, as was yesterday 
ordered, who were very kindly received ; from which we infer, 
it being the opinion also of many of the Natives, that they are 
working some evil designs against us. 

Saturday, 3ist. The Nabob sent his Chobadars as a safe 
guard to Egmore and our other new towns." 

A three days' calm succeeded, after which the 
following entry appears in the Consultation Book : 

" Wednesday 4th February. The Nabob Dawood Khan 
having been several days at St. Thome, and our Moollah attending 
him, whom he sent for before he arrived there, pretending great 
business of importance, and having not yet imparted anything ; 
he was ordered yesterday to wait on trie Nabob to receive his 
commands, and know the occasion of his being sent for ; who 
received for answer that he (the Nabob) expected some English- 
men to come to him, and that too not without a present ; pre- 
tending how much he had been our friend, having never wrote 
against us to Court nor informed the King of our revenues, to 
whom was due a great sum for arrears thereof. The Moollah 
returning this morning to carry an answer to what the Nabob 
demanded, it was resolved as follows : That whereas he (the 
Nabob) had sent for the English, French, Dutch, Danes and 
Portuguese (from which we infer and are jealous that he has an 
order from the King to oblige all Europeans on this side the 
Country to give security for all Piracies committed in these seas, 
as they have forced them to do at Surat) it is resolved that no 
English go ; besides should any be sent, we could not avoid 
a present going with them, which would be of ill consequence to 
the Company's affairs for the future, we having given him a 
present about six months since, which would not only be pleaded 
hereafter as customary by himself but by all succeeding Nabobs. 
And as to our revenues, we ordered our Moollah to tell him they 
were only raised upon our own people, and such acquired con- 
siderable fortunes in our service ; and that we were now ready 
to demonstrate, not only that we daily gave subsistence to at 
least two hundred thousand people subjects to the Mogul, but 
that there also arose yearly by the trade of the place, a vast 
sum to the King's treasury ; and whereas we imported to a great 
amount of silver and gold we exported nothing but the produce 
of the country and the labour of his people ; and that rather 
than be subject to such frequent presents, it would be more to 
the Company's advantage that the King gave us some years to 
get in our effects, and then demolish our settlement and quit his 


country. And this message the Moollah is ordered to deliver, 
resolving to send no English nor present." 

It would seem from these entries that Daud 
had not yet disclosed to the Governor or his mes- 
sengers the orders which he had received from the 
Mogul ; that his object thus far had been to throw 
the English off their guard by leading them to 
suppose that he had come to St Thome merely 
for the purpose of inducing them to give him another 
complimentary present ; and that under the guise 
of friendship he was endeavouring to entice the 
Governor to put into his power two or three of the 
English servants of the Company, whom he might 
keep as hostages or send to the Mogul. It would 
also seem that the Governor, if he did not already 
know the terms of the Mogul's orders, had a shrewd 
suspicion of their purport. He therefore prudently 
determined that no Englishman should go to the 
Nawab's camp, and that Daud should be given 
clearly to understand that whatever his demands 
might be, they would not be acceded to. The 
result of his adopting this course was to force the 
Nawab to show his hand, to disclose the orders 
he had received from his master, the Mogul, and 
to commence the blockade without more ado. For 
on the following morning news came to the Fort 
that the Nawab had stopped all provisions and goods 
from coming into or going out of the town ; and 
about noon the Moollah returned from St Thome, 
to inform the Governor that the Nawab had sent 
for them and shown them the Mogul's order of which 
he brought back a copy. Whereupon the Train- 
bands and Portuguese militia were at once raised, 
and stationed at their appointed posts. The declara- 
tion made by the Moollah was as follows : 

" This day (Friday 6th February 1702) the Nabob, Dewan, 
Imaum Beague, and Mahomed Amin Mir Sheriff sent for us to 


the Dewan's house ; where the Nabob told me that the great 
God knows that he had ever had a hearty respect for the English 
and did never wish them any hurt, saying, here is the Hosbul- 
hocum which the King has sent me to seize Factories and all 
their effects ; which as I style myself the King's slave, I must 
obey him, though, says he, we do not care to fight them, but in 
case they begin we are ready. The Nabob likewise told me, 
that we have received of the late wreck (the Advice frigate, in 
which the Governor had lately been to Fort St. David) seven 
hundred thousand Pagodas, which appertains to the King, and 
we must be answerable for it, or if we had any firmauns to this 
purpose we must show them, which is the reason your effects are 
seized by the King's orders, whose command we must obey. 

I did see the two Hosbulhocums, one to the Nabob and one 
to the Dewan, the one sealed with wax and the other with ink, 
to which the Nabob did bid me send an answer. The Dewan at 
the same time telling me I should not be dejected, for they would 
be answerable for double what should be lost 1 ." 

On receipt of this information the Governor 
wrote at once to the Nawab : 

"To his Excellency Dawood Khan. 

This morning our Moollah came to me, who shows me the 
copy of an Order said to be from the great Assid Khan, charging 
all Europeans with Piracy, and that by a writing they are 
answerable for the same. We have been informed that there was 
such a writing extorted from the English, French and Dutch 
at Surat, which amongst us is of no value, being forced from us ; 
nor will the same be regarded more particularly by us, who have 
been so great sufferers ourselves ; and besides our King have 
not been at so little charge as two hundred thousand Pagodas 
to extirpate those villains. 

The goods you have seized today, I doubt not but you 
were advised what value was thereof. 

As to what your Excellency was pleased to say regarding 
the wreck, we have the law of God and all nations on our side ; 
for no ship is a wreck, whilst her proprietors keep possession, 
and had you taken the least thing of her, you must have been 
accountable, as you will be for many things you have already 

Your Hosbulhocum says, we are not to be confined ; and 
your Excellency said to the Moollah that you are not to fight 
us, but are resolved if possible to starve us by stopping all 

1 Wheeler i. 387. 


provisions. We can put no other construction on this, than 
declaring a war with all Europe nations, and accordingly we 
shall act. 

Fort St. George, 6th February 1702." 

The next day we find the following entry in 
the Consultation Book : 

" Saturday, 7th. This day the Nabob's forces plundered 
our out towns of some straw and paddy, and drove away the 
inhabitants ; and the poor people that lived in our suburbs 
and Blacktown, being so intimidated by the approach of the 
Moors army, and the preparations we made for our defence, 
several thousands deserted us ; and the Farmers of the Tobacco 
and Betel complaining that they could not collect the revenues 
by reason of these troubles, and more particularly Betel being 
stopped which would in a few days occasion great clamours 
amongst the inhabitants ; so that for the encouragement of all 
to steal it in, we have ordered that the Farmers cease from 
collecting these revenues till the troubles are over." 

On the same day the following letter was received 
from the Nawab : 

" From Dawood Khan Nabob to the Governor of Chinna- 

I received your letter and observe the contents thereof ; 
and as to what you write about stopping provisions and goods 
and your trade, it is done by the King's order, as a means to 
interdict your trade. You say that the King of England has 
spent 200,000 Pagodas to destroy the Pirates, which was our 
King made sensible of, it would redound to your advantage. 

You also wrote something else, but as for me I have no 
other order from the King than mentioned to you ; but if you 
have any ill designs, I know how to deal with you ; but I give 
you my best advice because I wish you well." 

In reply to which Governor Pitt at once wrote : 

" I received your Excellency's letter and observe the contents ; 
and as I take it, in that paper you call the King's order, there 
is nothing about stopping provisions, for that in all parts of the 
world is publishing a war between nation and nation : though 
we have sufficient for our people for two years, besides the sea 
open to us. 

That our King has been at 200,000 Pagodas charge to 
suppress Pirates, is a thing known to all nations, as also to 
yours, for four of his men of war were in this road. 


We have lived in this country nearly one hundred years, 
and never had any ill designs, nor can your Excellency or any 
one else charge us with any ; and it is very hard that such 
unreasonable orders should be issued out against us only, when 
they relate to all Europeans, none excepted, as I can perceive ; 
and whether it be for the good of your kingdom to put such 
orders in execution, your Excellency is the best judge. 

We are upon the defensive part and so shall continue 
remembering the unspeakable damages you have not only done 
us in our estates, but also in our reputation, which is far more 
valuable to us, and will be most resented by the King of our 

Thomas Pitt." 

The same day the Governor sent general letters 
to Fort St David, Masulipatam and Vizagapatam, 
with a translation of the Mogul's Hosbulhocum, 
giving leave to the Company's servants in the two 
last places, which had no defences, to come into Fort 
St George, if they apprehended that the Mogul's 
orders " would any ways affect them." 

The next day news was brought to the garrison 
from their out-guards " that a party of horse were 
drawing down towards their Washers, who had 
cloth in their hands to a considerable amount/' 
upon which they sent out a party of horse and foot 
to protect the same, whose appearance caused the 
enemy to march off. 

The next four days' entries in the Consultation 
Book are as follows 1 : 

" Monday Qth. Last night the Governor received a letter 
from the Dewan, the purport of which was, that matters were 
not to be accommodated by letters, but by sending some judicious 
person. Whereupon the Governor summoned a Council, with 
the Mayor, Military Officers and chief inhabitants of the place, 
to consider what was most proper to be done. Upon which it 
is resolved to send our Moollah, who by reason of his caste they 
dare not affront or abuse, who is to hear what they have to say, 
but answer to nothing until he has direction from the Governor. 
Accordingly this night he is ordered to go to St. Thome. 

This day again we had many thousands of the inhabitants 
1 Wheeler i. 392-394. 


deserted their habitations, being mostly women and children. 
We heard that the Nabob had taken four Englishmen prisoners 
at St. Thome, coming overland from Fort St. David, being some 
sailors belonging to the Advice frigate and soldiers of that place, 
who had leave to com hither. 

Tuesday, loth. The Merchants acquaint us that the Moors 
have seized 40 oxloads of the Company's cloth, and carried it 
into St. Thome, being come away before their orders could reach 
their Factors for not sending more ; and they further acquaint 
us, that they understand the Nabob has sent to seize all cloth 
in the Weavers' hands with their accompts. 

Wednesday nth. This day again the Governor summoned 
a General Council, and produced a letter he had wrote to the 
French, Dutch and Danes, to advise them of our circumstances 
and the occasion thereof ; also of the necessity of our joining 
together in this matter ; which was debated and agreed that it 
should be translated into Portuguese, but to defer the sending of 
it till tomorrow night, in expectation to have some news from 
our Moollah before that time. 

Thursday, I2th. This day the Governor summoned a 
General Council to acquaint them with what message the Moollah 
had brought from the Nabob at St. Thome, which was such 
rhodomantine stuff that we could hardly give credit to it. He 
demanded possession of our Mint ; that his people should come 
into our Town, and view our Godowns, and take an account of 
our estates ; and that we should put one hundred men of theirs 
in possession of the Blacktown ; and that then he would write 
to the King that we had obeyed his order, and make an attesta- 
tion on our behalfs, unto which we must wait an answer. Other- 
wise he would fall in on us, and make us surrender by force of 
arms, and cut us all off. He also told the Moollah that if we 
were merchants, what need had we of such a Fortification and 
so many guns, which is an argument which has been much used 
by the New Company's servants, since their dropping into this 
country ; and as we have been informed, the same has been urged 
to the King, and the great men of the Kingdom at the Camp. 

It was agreed that no answer be returned to this message, 
as not being worth our taking notice of, but tacitly to defy 
their threats." 

In the meanwhile some of the inhabitants of 
St Thome, which had become the headquarters 
of the besiegers, seem to have become much alarmed 
at a rumour which had reached them, that the 
English were preparing to employ some of their 


ships to bombard the town. It is highly improbable 
that this rumour had any other foundation than 
the fear of the Nawab and the Dewan for their 
own safety, and the alarm, which as it appears 
from a despatch sent home subsequently by the 
Governor, had been created amongst the besiegers 
by the shells which had fallen from time to time 
in their midst, when they approached too near 
the Fort. To have bombarded St Thome would 
have been a flagrant breach of the peace between 
England and Portugal, and would have been bitterly 
resented by the Portuguese inhabitants of Fort 
St George, "who had always been faithful adherents 
of the Company, and were now actively engaged 
in the defence of the Fort. With a view to dissuade 
the Governor from committing any such outrage, 
the Bishop wrote to him apparently in great perturba- 
tion, pointing out that the Portuguese at St Thome 
had on all occasions behaved as true friends to the 
English and had always appreciated the kindnesses 
shown them by the Governor. In reply the Governor 
at once sent him the following letter : 

" To his Lordship the Bishop of St. Thome. 
I received your Lordship's letter with the Protest and 
observe the contents thereof, and shall take care to preserve 
the good union between their Majesties the King of Portugal 
and the King of Great Britain, and the friendship that is between 
your Lordship and us, for which I have a great value ; not in 
the least doubting that your Lordship or any of your nation, 
would by advice or otherwise give any assistance to our un- 
reasonable and unjust enemies. So craving your Lordship's 
blessing for success to our arms against them, and wishing you 
all health and prosperity 

I am 

Your Lordship's most obedient 
humble servant, 

Thomas Pitt." 

Some days later the Governor sent the Nawab, 
Dewan and Buxie a present of 48 China oranges 


which seems to have encouraged the Buxie to try his 
hand at diplomacy. For on the 2oth of February 
he wrote to the Governor with a proposal that the 
latter should write to the Mogul humbly laying 
the lives and estates of the English at Fort St George 
at his Majesty's mercy; and that the Nawab should 
forward this letter, and intercede on their behalf, 
if in consideration for so doing, the Governor under- 
took in the course of the next four years to pay 
a great sum into the Mogul's treasury and to keep 
the sea clear of pirates. It need hardly be said 
that the Governor declined to consider this suggestion. 

On the 2ist of February the Moollah came 
back from St Thome and acquainted the Governor 
" with abundance of discourse he had with the 
Nabob, from whom he had great intimations that 
they wanted from the English a very great sum 
of money, to which," to quote from the Consultation 
Book, " we bid him answer that we owed them 
nothing, their King nor their country, nor would 
give them anything." Four days later, however, the 
Governor so far relented as to send them 200 more 
oranges, 100 for the Nawab, and the other hundred 
to be divided equally between the Dewan and the 

Early in March answer came from the Dutch at 
Negapatam and the Danes at Tan j ore, to whom ap- 
plications for assistance had been made by the English 
at the Fort. " The former," the Council record in the 
Consultation Book, " made a specious excuse for not 
assisting us with men, saying they are under fear of 
troubles from the Tan j ore country ; concluding with a 
feigned strain of sorrow and wishes for a happy issue 
from our troubles. The Danes allege that their circum- 
stances are very weak, having had great mortality 
amongst their Europeans both ashore and belonging 
to their ships ; but they sent a sloop of provisions/' 

D. 15 


On the 5th of March advice was brought to the Fort 
that the French Secretary from Pondicherry had 
arrived at St Thome and " presented the Nabob, 
Dewan and Buxie in liquors and rarities to the 
amount by calculation of about eight hundred 
Pagodas/' A week later news came that the Dutch 
had brought a public present for the Nawab, con- 
sisting of scarlet cloth, silks, China and Japan 
ware and spices, besides a private present the amount 
of which was not known. That it was considerable 
may be inferred from the fact that the Dutch envoys 
before their departure were commended by the 
Nawab for obeying his commands : and the Governor's 
Moollah was asked why the English did not also come. 
His answer was that the repeated indignities to which 
they had been subjected was a sufficient reason. 

In the meanwhile information had arrived at 
the Fort that the dispute between the English at 
Surat and the Mogul's Governor respecting the 
piracies had been finally settled, " the English 
having paid for the two ships taken by the Pirates 
in the Straits of Malacca upwards of 282,000 
rupees in broadcloth and other goods 1 ." This news 
was confirmed by the Governor's Moollah at St 
Thome, who informed the Governor that the Nawab 
had heard to the same effect from the Mogul's Court ; 
and that he had told the Nawab that it now behoved 
him to withdraw his forces; but that the Nawab 
had answered that he could allege a thousand 
things against the English beyond their power 
to defend, at the same time offering to make up 
the quarrel if he were paid 30,000 rupees. In reply 
the Governor sent him some more Pegu oranges. 
These repeated offerings of oranges instead of 
pagodas or rupees seem to have been too much 

1 Wheeler i. 402. 


at last for Baud, who sent them back, saying they 
were only fit for children. 

At length on the 8th of April the following entry 
occurs in the Consultation Book : 

" The Nabob and his army having lain here a considerable 
time, stopping all trade and provisions and very much increasing 
the Company's charges, which has not only been very prejudicial 
to the Company in their trade and revenues, but likewise to the 
whole place in general ; and finding now that they decline 
very much in their demands, which we impute to the advice 
they have that the merchants' demands at Surat are satisfied ; 
we have thought fit, to prevent greater inconveniences to employ 
our Selim Beague, an inhabitant of this town to offer them 
the sum of 18,000 Rupees : provided they deliver up to our 
merchants the goods and money they have seized belonging 
to this place and Fort St David ; which sum of 18,000 Rupees, 
considering the very long time they have been here, we believe 
will be no inducement for him to come again or any of his succes- 
sors hereafter ; and accordingly it is agreed that the President 
pays the said sum upon the terms aforesaid and not otherwise." 

The Nawab having declined these terms, the 
siege continued for another month, before a settle- 
ment could be come to, the terms of which appear 
in the following entry in the Consultation Book : 

" Sunday 3rd May. The Nabob and the King's officers 
having lain before this place upwards of three months, and 
interdicted all manner of trade and provisions coming into this 
place ; the latter growing dear make it uneasy for the inhabi- 
tants ; and there having been some overtures of accommodation 
from the enemy ; which the Governor has been daily importuned 
by all sorts of people to accept of, occasions his summoning this 
General Council ; whom he acquainted with every particular as 
entered after this Consultation. Which being debated, it was 
agreed by the majority that the proposals be accepted of ; and 
that the same be negociated and settled by Chinna Serapa and 
Narrain, acquainting the Governor from time to time what 
progress they make therein. 

The proposals made by Kisnojee Dodojee, by order of the 
Nabob and Dewan, to the Governor of Madraspatam for an 
accommodation of the present differences. 

Whereas by a late order from the King all trading and 
provisions with the English has been interdicted at Fort St 



George and Fort St. David, we the Nabob and Dewan do now 
reverse the said order, and do grant them free liberty to trade 
in all places as heretofore they have done, without let or moles- 
tation : and to confirm the same to our people, do promise to 
give them our perwannas directed to all Fouljdars, Killadars, 
Corrodees, Deshairs, Destramokys, Poligars and inhabitants of 
all places whereto they trade, to be carried by our Chobdars. 

That whatever moneys etc have been taken away, either 
upon the roads or in towns, or in any place whatever, said 
moneys etc shall be returned to the value of a Cowry, and our 
merchants set at liberty. 

That the Villages, and all that has been taken from them 
shall be returned, and due satisfaction made for all damages 
according to account. 

And whereas their trade has been stopped by the King's 
order goods and moneys seized, it is requisite that an order 
from the King be procured to revoke the former, which we 
oblige ourselves to do ; and upon compliance with the aforesaid 
articles, twenty thousand Rupees is to be paid by the English 
to the Nabob, and five thousand privately to the Dewan ; of 
which sums half is to be paid upon clearing the Villages, returning 
the grain they have there seized, taking oft the stop on trade and 
provisions, and sending the Chobdars to the aforesaid officers 
with perwannas to all parts of the country whereby to order 
our trade to be as free as formerly, and to restore all goods 
which were seized and now lie at St. Thome ; and when the 
whole business is completed, the English to pay the other half.'* 

Two days after the acceptance by the Governor 
of these proposals, the siege was raised ; and a further 
present was made to the Nawab of liquors and 
rarities to the value of 1000 rupees 1 . Baud then 
marched away with his army. A continuous suc- 
cession of festivities ensued 2 . On the igth of May 
the Portuguese militia, on the 2oth one company 
of the regulars, and on the 2ist the other company 
were, we find from the Consultation Book, " hand- 
somely treated with dinners under a large tent 
spread in the Inner Fort ; and the Commission 
Officers of the respective Companyes those evenings 
supped with the Governor." On the 25th of May 

1 Wheeler i. 405. 2 Wheeler 2. 9. 


" the Governor and Council and the Trainbands 
were splendidly entertained with a supper at the 
Company's Garden they having also been under 
arms in our late troubles." 

From a letter sent by him to Captain Harrison 
the next year it would seem that the whole of the 
engagements made by Baud Khan for the return 
of the Company's goods and the release of the 
factors whom he had imprisoned were not complied 
with until August ; and that it was not till then 
that the second half of the stipulated 25,000 rupees 
was paid 1 . Pitt's successor in after days was less 
cautious in paying away the Company's money 
before getting his consideration for it, as appears 
from a letter of the Court to him of the 28th 
December lyn 2 : " Wee dont at all like," they 
say, " the account given about Rajah Syrrup 
Sing's detaining Lieutenant Hugonin and Ensign 
Ray, and a present of two hundred Pagodas given 
for their releasement, which tho taken the men 
are where they were. Had the like case happen' d 
in the late Presidents time he would have recover d 
them both at a tenth part of the Money, or rather the 
Rajah would not have dared to attempt the surprizing 
of them." 

The more narrowly the proceedings of Governor 
Pitt during this siege are scrutinised, the more 
difficult it becomes to find any flaw in them. The 
value of the goods, which the Mogul's general had 
been forced to restore on the cessation of hostilities 
must have been largely in excess of the amount 
paid to him. By dint of his practical shrewdness, 
stubborn determination and judicious concessions, 
the Governor had firmly impressed on the native 
mind the impregnability of the feeble defences of 
Fort St George and the hopelessness of any attempt 

1 Hedges 3. 85. 2 Hedges 3. 123. 


on the part of the Mogul's armies to invest the 
fortified coast settlement of the English, so long 
as their command of the sea was assured. The 
effects of his success were far reaching ; for no 
further blockade of the Fort was attempted by the 
natives of India during his term of office or that 
of any of his successors. The failure of Baud 
Khan, one of the most redoubted of the Mogul's 
generals, to compel its slender garrison to surrender 
did more than anything else could have done to 
sustain the fast waning prestige of the English 
in India. And it left no ill-will behind ; for the 
Governor had been careful throughout the siege 
to avoid wounding the susceptibilities of the Nawab 
and his Duan, by the omission of any of the cus- 
tomary courtesies to which their rank entitled them. 
At the same time, much as he had done for England 
during this crisis, he had done fairly well for his 
own estate. For, as will be seen, he had found 
time during the blockade, notwithstanding the 
stress of his official responsibilities, to secure for 
himself by perfectly legitimate means the possession 
of the famous Pitt diamond. 



THE proximity of Fort St George to the Kingdom 
of Golconda must have acted as a strong inducement 
to the residents in the fort to speculate in diamonds. 
That the diamond trade was recognised by their 
employers as a perfectly legitimate business for 
them to engage in, is evidenced by the action taken 
by the Court of the Old Company, when their 
rivals the New Company shortly after their formation 
endeavoured in vain to stop it 1 . In 1700 Captain 
Heath, who had been a member of the Court of 
the Old Company, having lost his seat at the April 
election, transferred his services to the New Company, 
and being one of the owners of the ship Neptune, 
which belonged to the Old Company, in revenge 
for the loss of his seat on the Court/ he persuaded 
her captain and purser on her arrival in the Port 
of London to inform the King's officers what private 
goods they had on board belonging to the Old 
Company's servants. On receipt of this information 
a parcel of diamonds and some other goods were 
seized by the Customs officers, on the plea that 
they were illicit imports in contravention of the 
New Company's Charter, which, although it had 
preserved the Old Company's right to trade for 
the next three years, had not expressly conferred 
a similar privilege on their servants. This pretension 

i Bruce 3. 333. 


the Old Company resisted on behalf of its employes, 
and took the case before the Court of Exchequer, 
who decided that " it was no trading within the 
meaning of the Act for the Old Company's servants 
in India at any time to bring home their estates 
acquired there/' Prior to this decision, and whilst 
the case was still pending, the Court of the Old 
Company wishing to protect their officers' goods 
whatever the law on the question might be, wrote 
to Fort St George, informing the Council there 
of what had happened, and directing orders to 
be communicated to the captains of all their ships 
to place for the future the Old Company's mark 
on whatever private goods they had on board 
to prevent the repetition of further claims of this 
nature. The case created a great stir at the time 
amongst the Old Company's officers in India. 
" Captain Heath's apostacy," Governor Pitt writes 
to the Secretary of the Old Company, " was a surprise 
to me, Mr Braddyl having informed me some time 
before, that Captain Heath was unanimously impor- 
tun'd by the Committee to become Governor of 
this place 1 ." As will be seen hereafter, Mr Braddyl 
was a man whose statements could not always 
be relied upon. It is clear that the Court would 
not have taken the course they did in this matter, 
if they had entertained any objection to their 
servants in India engaging in "the diamond trade. 

That the trade was also recognised by the Mogul's 
Government in India as a perfectly legitimate 
one for Europeans is clear from the evidence of the 
famous French traveller and jeweller, Tavernier, 
who had dealt in it very largely for many years 
and having visited the diamond mines in the Golconda 
district on three different occasions (1642, 1645, 
and 1651) in the course of his voyages and bought 

1 Hedges 3. 67. 

xiv] LEAVES INDIA 233 

several very valuable jewels there, was afterwards 
very warmly received at the Court of the Mogul 
Aurungzeb (1657), who showed him the finest of 
his own Imperial jewels, including the Great Mogul 
diamond. To this great potentate and to his uncle 
Shaista Khan, Viceroy of Bengal, Tavernier sold 
some of the most valuable of his jewels. Illustra- 
tions and descriptions of these, as well as of the most 
famous of the Mogul's jewels which he was permitted 
to examine, are given in his very interesting work, 
which was first translated into English in 1682 
and a copy of which seems to have been at Fort 
St George in Governor Pitt's time, who, as appears 
from his correspondence, had consulted it carefully. 
We may safely assume that many of his subordinates 
had done the same. For it was then and remained 
long afterwards the standard authority throughout 
Europe on Indian diamonds and other precious 
stones, the districts where they were to be found, 
the manner in which the mines were worked, the 
treatment of the stones and the method of calculating 
their value 1 . There is no reason whatever to doubt 
that before and after Governor Pitt's day, the private 
trade in jewels was carried on by the Company's 
servants with the full knowledge and approval 
of their employers and of the Native Government 
in India. It is desirable to clear up this point, 
in view of some of the allegations subsequently 
made in England by Pitt's detractors when his 
purchase of the great diamond had become generally 

That it was a very speculative trade involving 
considerable pecuniary risk to those who engaged 
in it is also clear. Success in it demanded not 
only a fair knowledge of the value of the stones, 

1 See Tavernier's Travels in India, edited by V. Ball, 1882. 
Macmillan and Co. 


combined with caution and skill in bargaining, 
but also good luck. The native merchants by their 
long experience were quite alive to the quality 
of the gems they brought for sale, and were by no 
means disposed to part with them for less than 
their market value in India. They had many 
ingenious means of concealing flaws in them, some 
of which are explained by Tavernier, whilst others 
are referred to in Governor Pitt's correspondence. 
In reply to a letter from home from Sir Stephen 
Evans, Queen Anne's Court Jeweller, he says on 
one occasion : " Twas never yet known here that 
the Brahminies greas'd a stone to hide the fowles, 
but wee all know they are Rogues enough and studdy 
nothing else but cheating 1 ." Apart from fraud on 
the part of the natives, unwary purchasers learnt 
sometimes by bitter experience the folly of trusting 
implicitly to the advice of some of their own comrades, 
who had gained the reputation of being good judges 
of the quality of diamonds. Governor Pitt himself 
was badly bitten once when he was induced to share 
in a considerable venture with his old enemy Charles 
Eyre in certain stones injudiciously selected for them 
both by Mr Meverell, one of the members of his 
Council. He speaks feelingly more than once of 
this unfortunate transaction 2 . In writing home to 
Eyre with reference to it, he expresses a sarcastic 
hope that when he is superseded in his Governorship, 
his successor will take on Meverell as his jeweller ; 
and suggests at the same time that as Eyre is a 
generous man, and can never have intended to 
raise his fortune by ruining his brother Indians, 
he will remember him as the man he has injured 
so seriously and leave him a plentiful legacy, if 
he does not make him his heir. But quite apart 
from the danger of being cheated by the native 

1 Hedges 3. 128. 2 Hedges 3. 77. 




merchants, the buyers of diamonds at Fort St George 
ran a very serious risk of losing their jewels altogether 
on their way home on the high seas by shipwreck 
or by capture in time of war. A signal instance 
of this occurred, when the Bedford East Indiaman, 
which had on board a magnificent diamond of the 
best quality, which seems to have been purchased 
by the Governor about the same time and from the 
same merchant as the great Pitt diamond, was lost 
with all hands on its way home. This diamond 
weighed 58 \ carats and its declared value according 
to the invoice was 6500 pagodas. Similar mishaps 
must have befallen many of the English residents 
at Fort St George from time to time. Nor could 
those who were lucky enough to get their diamonds 
safely home always rely upon receiving a fair price 
for them. If times were bad, or the market had 
been glutted, their profits were often grievously 
curtailed, even when the agents whom they had 
trusted to dispose of their jewels had not, as they 
occasionally did, played them false. It was said 
that the rogues in London were not to be outdone 
by those in India. " Be sure/' the Governor writes 
on one occasion to his son, "to be at the opening 
of all bulses of diamonds consigned to you, for I 
have been told that some has the knack of changing 
stones, which is one of the worst of villaniesV 
It would also appear from another of his letters 
that Diamond Syndicates were not unknown in 
London, even at that early date. " It is reported 
here/' he writes, " that a company of hucksters 
and sharpers has been formed " (in London) >:t to 
buy all consignments of diamonds. I hope you 
allow none such to buy any of mine to my detriment 2 /' 
But with all its pitfalls ^and dangers/ the diamond 
trade had many attractions. It was indeed a lottery : 

1 Dropmore I. 26. 2 Dropmore i. 38. 


but it was a lottery in which great prizes were occa- 
sionally drawn and there were probably very few 
Englishmen in Fort St George who did not habitually 
take a hand in it. The money value of diamonds 
was considerably higher in England than in India, 
and until the later years of Pitt's Governorship, the 
prices which they fetched in England seem not to have 
been disclosed to the Indian diamond merchants, 
and great care had been taken by the servants 
of the Company to keep back from their consignees 
the prices which they had paid in India for the stones. 
Writing to his son in February 1707, when sending 
home a bulse of diamonds on the Tankerville, the 
Governor says: "They are very good and every 
one will make a brilliant, and they are not dear 
considering the times, the like of which has not 
been known for many years, which we impute 
in a great measure to the villany of Pluymer, who 
informed the merchants here how they sold in 
England 1 /' In the earlier years of his Presidency, 
very good bargains in theni w r ere made ; and they 
were moreover a very convenient form of remittance 
from India to Europe. By far the larger part 
of Governor Pitt's shipments on account of other 
parties consisted of diamonds 2 ; and it is not unlikely 
that if we had the invoices of the goods shipped 
home by his subordinates, we should find that 
he only followed the practice which had prevailed 
in the Fort for generations : and that it was the 
exception rather than the rule for any of the Com- 
pany's servants not to have his own private little 
purse or bag of gems (bulses, as they were termed), 
which he replenished from time to time as opportunity 
offered, until it was full enough to make it worth 
his while to send it and its contents to England. 
Writing to Mr Robert Raworth, an old friend 

1 Dropmore i. 25. 2 Hedges 3. 125. 

xiv] LEAVES INDIA 237 

though a member of the New Company, some few 
months before he bought his great diamond, Governor 
Pitt expresses a hope that if he and his men are 
ousted from Fort St George by the home authorities, 
they will be permitted to march out with all the 
honours of war 1 , " with our arms and Diamonds 
in our pockets, Drums beating and Colours flying/' 
There can be little doubt, that if they had been 
compelled to march out, the pockets of many of 
them would have been well lined. 

On the 1 8th of October 1701, whilst Norris 
was still at the camp of the Mogul, and a few days 
before he received his ultimatum, Governor Pitt 
had written to his London agent and friend, Sir 
Stephen Evans, the Court Jeweller and banker : 

" I have also heard that there are two or three large stones 
up the Countrey which I believe had been here, but that the 
troubles of the Countrey have prevented it, besides they ask 
soe excessively Dear for such Stones that 'tis Dangerous meddling 
with 'em, but if that Stone comes hither shall as near as I can 
follow your advice and orders therein, and should I meet with it 
here is little money to be taken up, besides you have given your 
orders to Soe many in this matter that wee shall interfere with one 
another 2 ." 

It would seem from this letter that some rumours 
of the great diamond had already reached London ; 
that Sir Stephen Evans had sent out directions 
concerning it to several persons ; and that the 
Governor was a little nettled that others besides 
himself had been consulted about it. In little more 
than a fortnight after writing this to Evans, he 
not only came across the stone itself, but had had 
an opportunity of examining it carefully, and had 
even obtained a model of it. It had been brought 
to Fort St George by Ramchund, one of the most 
eminent of the native diamond merchants, together 

1 Hedges 3. 69. * Hedges 3. 125. 


with some smaller stones, one of which was probably 
the fine diamond which the Governor sent home 
a few months later by the Bedford and which went 
down with that ill-fated vessel. As soon as he had 
got his model, he sent it to Evans with the following 
letter : 

" To Sir Stephen Evans, Knt. 

Fort St. George Nov. 6th. 1701. 

Sr. This acompanyes the modell of a Stone I have lately 
seene ; itt weighs Mangs. 303, and cartts. 426. It is of an 
excellent christaline water without any fowles, onely att one end 
in the flat part there is one or two little flaws which will come 
out in cutting, they lying on the surface of the Stone, the price 
they ask for it is prodigious being two hundred thousand pags. : 
th6 I believe less than one " (hundred thousand) " would buy it. 
If it was designed for a Single Stone, I believe it would not loose 
about J part in cutting, and bee a larger Stone than any the 
Mogull has, I take it. Pro rata as stones goe I thinke 'tis 
inestimable. Since I saw it, I have bin perusing of Tavernier, 
where there is noe Stone soe large as this will bee when cutt. 
I write this singly to you, and noe one else, and desire it may bee 
Kept private, and that you'l by the first of land or sea con- 
veighance give mee your opinion thereon, for itt being of Soe 
great a vallue I believe here are few or none can buy it. I have 
put it " (i.e. the model) " up Inclos'd in a little box and mark'd 
it S.E. which the Capt will deliver you, my hearty service to 
you. I am 

Sr. Your most oblidged humble servant, 
T. Pitt." 

On receipt of this letter Sir Stephen Evans 
lost no time in writing back : 

" London, August ist. 1702. 

I have received yours with a modell of a great diamond 
weighing 426 Car. therein you give an account of itts water and 
goodness, certainly there never was such a Stone heard of before, 
and as for Price, they asked 200,000 pags., though you believe 
less than 100,000 would buy. Wee are now gott in a Warr, the 
French King has his handstand heart full, soe he cant buy such 
a Stone. There is .no Prince in Europe can buy itt, soe would 
advise you not to meddle in itt, for the Interest Yearly would 
come to a great sum of Money to be dead, as for the Diamonds 

Facsimile of letter written to Sir Stephen Evans by Thomas Pitt 
enclosing a model of the Pitt diamond before its purchase 

xiv] LEAVES INDIA 239 

received per Duchess can't sell them for 8s a Pagoda. Mr 
Alvares tells me he received some Diamonds from Mr Meverell 
that he sold for 6s a Pagoda, soe there is noe encouragement 
to send for diamonds." 

If this letter from the Court Jeweller had reached 
Fort St George earlier than it did, and Governor 
Pitt had acted on the warning contained in it, he 
would have saved himself and others from many 
an anxious hour. But long before he had received 
Evans' letter, he had yielded to the temptation, 
as most men in his place would have done, and 
bought the stone. The following account of its 
purchase written by him eight years afterwards 
from recollection, whilst stranded at Bergen on 
his way back to England, is no doubt substantially 
correct. It contains nothing in any way at variance 
with the extant documents written about the time 
when the diamond was bought : 

" 1710. July 29. Bergen. Since my coming into this 
melancholy place of Bergen, I have been often thinking of the 
most unparalleled villany of William Fraser, Thomas Frederick 
and Surapa, a black merchant, who brought a paper before 
Governor Addison " (the brother of the great Joseph Addison 
and the successor of Pitt in the Governorship of Fort St George) 
" in Council insinuating that I had unfairely gott possession of 
a large diamond, which tending soe much to the prejudice of 
my reputation and the ruine of my estate that I thought it 
necessary to keep by mee this true relation how I purchased it, 
in all respects, that soe, in case of sudden mortality, my chilldren 
and friends may bee apprised of the whole matter, and soe be 
enabled thereby to putt to silence and confound those and all 
other villains in their base attempts against either. I haveing 
not my books by me at present, I cannot bee positive as to the 
time ; but for the manner of purchasing it, I doe here declare 
and assert under my hand, in the presence of God Almighty, 
as I hope for salvation through the meritts and intercession of 
our Saviour Jesus Christ, that this is the truth; and if it bee 
not, lett God deny it to mee and my children for ever ; which 
I would be soe farr from saying, much less leave it under my 
hand, that I would not be guilty of the least untruth in the 


relation, for the riches and honour of the whole world. About 
two or three years after my arrivall at Maderass, which was in 
July 1689, I heard that there were large diamonds in the country 
to bee sold, which I incouraged to be brought downe, promiseing 
to bee their chapman if they would bee reasonable therein ; 
upon which Ramchund, one of the most eminent diamond dealers 
in those parts, came downe about December 1701, and brought 
with him a large rough stone, about 305 mangeleens, and some 
small ones, which my self e and others bought. But hee asking 
a very extravagant price for the great one, I did not thinke of 
medling with it, when hee left it with mee for some days, and 
then came and took it away againe ; and did soe several! times, 
not insisting upon less than two hundred thousand pagodoes, as 
I best remember. I did not bid him above thirty thousand, and 
had little thoughts of buying it, for that I considered there were 
many and great risgoes to bee run, not only in cutting it, but 
also whether it would prove fowle or cleane or the water goode ; 
besides I thought it too great an amount to be ventured home on 
one bottome. But Ramchund resolving to return speedily to 
his owne country, soe that I best remember, it was in February 
following, hee came againe to mee (with Vincaly Chuttee who 
was allways with him when I discoursed him about it) and pressed 
me to know whether I resolved to buy it, when hee came down 
to 100,000 pagodoes, and something under, before wee parted, 
when wee agreed upon a day to meete and make a finall end 
thereof one way or other, which I believe was the latter end of 
the aforesaid month, or the beginning of March. Wee accord- 
ingly mett in the Consultation room, where after a great deal 
of talke, I brought him down to 55,000 pagodoes, and advanced 
to 45,000, resolving to give noe more, and he likewise resolved 
not to abate, soe delivered him up the stone, and wee tooke 
a friendly leave of one another. Mr. Benyon was then writeing 
in my closett, with whom I discoursed what had passed, and 
told him now I was cleare of it, when about an hour after, my 
servant brought me word that Ramchund and Vincaly Chuttee 
were at the door ; who being called in, they used a great many 
expressions in praise of the stone, and told mee hee had rather 
I should buy it than anybody : and to give an instance thereof 
offerd it for 50,000. Soe believing it must bee a pennyworth 
if it proved good, I offerd to part the 5000 pagodoes that was 
then between us, which hee would not hearken to, and was 
goeing out of the room againe, when he turned back and told 
mee I should have it for 49,000. But I still adhered to what 
I had before offerd him, when presently hee came to 48,000, 
and made a solemn vow that he would not part with it a pagodoe 
under ; when I went againe into the closett with Mr. Benyon, 

xiv] LEAVES INDIA 241 

and told him what had passed, saying that if it was worth 47,500 
it was worth 48,000, soe closed with him for that sum, when hee 
delivered mee the stone, for which I paid him very honourably, 
as by my books appears. And I here farther call God to witnesse 
that I never used the least threatening word at any of our 
meeteings to induce him to sell it mee, and God himselfe knows 
it never was as much in my thoughts soe to doe. Since which 
I have had frequent and considerable deallings with this man 
and ballanced severall accounts with him, and left upwards of 
2,000 pagodoes in his hands at my comeing away : soe had 
I used the least indirect means to have gott it from him, would 
not hee have made himself satisfaction, when he has had my 
money soe often in his hands ? Or would I have treated him 
afterwards as I did preferable to all other diamond merchants ? 
As this is the truth, soe I hope for God's blessing on this and all 
other my affaires in this world, and eternall happiness hereafter 1 ." 

On the cover of this narrative the following 
direction was written : 

" In case of the death of mee, Thomas Pitt, I direct that 
this paper, sealed as it is, bee delivered to my sone Robert Pitt." 

It would be out of place at this stage of Governor 
Pitt's career to detail the circumstances which led 
to the presentation to Governor Addison of the 
infamous paper referred to in the opening para- 
graph of this circumstantial narrative, which con- 
tained nothing but vague insinuations unsupported 
by any evidence whatever. The main object of 
its compilers was evidently to blacken Pitt's re- 
putation in the eyes of his successor and throw 
discredit on the reports which he had sent home 
to the Court of their own misdoings and characters. 
They were very much in the dark with regard to 
the circumstances in which the diamond had been 
acquired by him, but very anxious to induce 
Addison to believe that its purchase was not only 
a very dirty business, but calculated to prejudice 
the interests of the Company and to lead to com- 
plications with the Native Government. Governor 

1 Dropmore i. 48. 




Pitt's own account of the transaction is corro- 
borated by the independent testimony of Mr Salmon, 
author of The Universal Traveller, who on page 164 
of the first volume of the 1752 edition of that work 
says that when diamonds of an extraordinary size 
were found in the mines, it was the practice to 
give the Mogul's agent the refusal of them 1 , 
"though," he adds, "if a large diamond happens 
to be carried out of the mine, nobody questions 
the Proprietor how he came by it ; he may sell 
it in any fair or market." He goes on to say, 
" It was a rich Black Merchant in the Mogull's 
Camp that sold the great Diamond to Mr Pitt 
about the year 1700, which he afterwards sold to 
the French King for upwards of 100,000, but I 
never could learn the exact sum. And this was 
so far from being a great Bargain, that Mr Pitt 
declared he lost Money by it. He gave 24,000 
for that Diamond, and considering he was Governor 
of Fort St George for ten years, he might have 
made more money by trading with that sum than 
he did by the Diamond. I mention this because 
I was upon the Spot and thoroughly acquainted 
with the Transaction in India, and am able to 
refute the scandalous Stories that have been raised 
of the Means whereby the Governor acquired 
the Jewel. It lay some Months at Fort St George, 
in the hands of the Merchant's Agent that sold 
it, in order to obtain a Chapman for it, and Governor 
Pitt was the best Bidder ; no Manner of Compulsion 
was used to obtain it." It may be doubted whether 
any cleaner record exists of the acquisition by an 
European of any famous jewel from an Oriental, 
than that of the Pitt diamond. 

We have no authentic information of how the 
diamond came into the possession of Ramchund. 

1 Hedges 3. 134. 



The two commonest versions of its earlier history 
may safely be disregarded as fabulous. The first 
is that it had been one of the eyes of a famous 
Hindu idol and was stolen by a French prisoner, 
who managed to escape with it to the coast. Apart 
from the fact that this tale is told of two other 
great diamonds, the " Orloff " and the " Moon 
of Mountains," the shape of the Pitt diamond 
in its rough state was such that it is difficult to 
understand how it could ever have been utilised 
as an eye even of the most grotesque idol 1 . The 
other story told of it is that it was stolen by a native 
slave who found it when working in the diamond 
mines and that he concealed it in a hole which he 
cut in his leg, from which, according to one account, 
it was violently extracted by Governor Pitt 2 . Accord- 
ing to another account, the slave secreted it in a 
bandage, which he wrapped round the wound, and 
subsequently sold it to an English skipper who 
having taken him on board his ship under the 
pretence of getting the purchase money, threw 
him overboard and afterwards died of delirium 
tremens and remorse, having sold it to somebody 
else for 1000. The suggestion that the stone 
remained in the native's leg until Thomas Pitt 
violently extracted and took possession of it needs 
no comment 3 . The stow of the skipper is almost 
equally improbable. To believe it we must assume 
not only very gross carelessness on the part of the 
managers of the mine, but also a confession by the 
thief to the skipper of the theft, and a further 
confession by the skipper of his murder of the 
thief. The tale, moreover, fails to account for the 
reports of the existence of the stone, which had 
reached not only Pitt but also Sir Stephen Evans 

1 Streeter's Great Diamonds of the World, pp. 107, 108 and 191. 

2 Streeter p. 169. 3 Hedges 3. 137. 

1 6 2 


in England before Ramchund brought it to Fort 
St George, and the subsequent rumours that were 
rife up country concerning it as having been seen 
in the mines 1 . These rumours led to inquiries by 
the Mogul who sent for several of the merchants 
supposed to be implicated in the disappearance 
of the stone, in respect of which presumably the 
customary duty of 2 per cent, on the purchase 
money had not been paid into the Imperial Treasury 2 . 
If the finder of the diamond had escaped from the 
mine with the diamond hidden in his leg or in a 
bandage, and had afterwards sold it to a skipper, 
who had in his turn sold it to Pitt, it is difficult 
to understand how any rumours of its existence 
could have reached the Mogul. The probability 
is that the proprietors of the mine, thinking they 
could get a higher price from the English merchants 
than from the Mogul, entrusted Ramchund with 
the business of disposing of it, and that they were 
quite satisfied with the result. It is unlikely that, 
in view of the very costly wars in which he was 
then engaged and the enormous number of jewels 
he already possessed, the Mogul, who according 
to Tavernier " cared but little for stones and loved 
gold and silver much better 3 /' would have given 
more for it than Pitt did. If the mine owners 
sold it to Pitt, its existence would be known to many 
persons in the mines : the rumour of its sale would 
ultimately reach the Mogul : and he would no 
doubt insist on receiving his share of the proceeds. 
That diamonds of great size and beauty were con- 
stantly on sale to Europeans by Indian merchants 
in this part of India is clear from Tavernier's descrip- 
tion and illustration of the Great Table Diamond 4 , 
which when cut weighed 242 carats, and which 

1 Hedges 3. 125, 127. 2 Tavernier 2. 63. 

s Tavernier 2. 135. * Tavernier 2. 124. 

xiv] LEAVES INDIA 245 

was offered to him for sale by an Indian merchant 
for 500,000 rupees (56,250) ; but which he believes 
he might have had for 450,000 rupees. 

But although the tales of its earlier history 
may probably be regarded as apocryphal, the very 
prevalent popular belief in the bad luck that attaches 
to the ownership of great jewels is not likely to 
be shaken by the Governor's subsequent experiences. 
Any satisfaction he may have derived from being 
the proud possessor of the most famous diamond 
of the world, must have been greatly discounted 
by his continuous anxieties on its behalf, during 
the whole time it remained upon his hands. From 
the date of its purchase his most serious troubles 
with his employers and his family at home and 
with his own staff in India began. The Indian 
climate and his love of good living must have told 
upon his health and temper, to say nothing of the 
growing power of his enemies at home to injure 
him after the union of the two Companies. On 
the top of all came his anxieties and disappointments 
about the diamond. It is no wonder that he became 
more and more intolerant of those with whom 
he had the misfortune to fall out. In reading 
some of the more intemperate passages in some of 
his letters, it is only fair to bear these extenuating 
circumstances in mind. 

His first difficulty with the diamond was to 
keep his possession of it a secret from his daily 
companions, a task in which he seems to have 
been more successful than might have been antici- 
pated. For his associates in the Council and the 
garrison do not appear to have entertained any 
suspicion of his purchase of the stone, until long 
after it had been placed in safe keeping in London. 
The next step to be taken was to get it home. The 
performance of this duty he entrusted to his son 



Robert who had come out with him to India as 
a private merchant, and was already heartily sick 
of the Eastern trade, and anxious above all things 
to get back to England that he might enjoy himself 
in more congenial surroundings. Robert seems to 
have spent the greater part of his exile in voyages 
to China, in which, thanks to his father's help and 
interest, he had already acquired a moderate com- 
petency of his own. Writing to his mother two 
or three months after his first arrival with his father 
at Fort St George, he says, " We arrived here July 6th. 
I am bound to China in a few months/' In the 
following April he had written to his uncle Mr 
Curgenven from Batavia, which place he describes 
as " the metropolis of India, well fortified with 
a garrison of 3000 European soldiers 1 /' In November 
1699 he had written again to his mother from Amoy, 
informing her that he had heard of his " cousin 
John Pitt's coming out in the New Company's 
service as President of the Coast of Coromandel 
and Consul for the King." " To all appearance," 
he writes, " the Old Company, in whose interest 
my father is, stand on a very bad footing ; their 
servants in India being under the Consuls now 
come out, and the sending of Embassadors to 
negotiate at the Court being prejudicial to them." 
In the following month he was still at Amoy, and 
wrote in similar terms to his uncle Curgenven, 
1 The establishment of the New Company has not 
a little surprised all people in these parts ; the 
sending out Embassadors and Consuls looks as 
if they would drive all before them ; notwithstanding 
they may happen to make good the old saying 
' nihil violentum est diuturnum/ J A year after- 
wards, in December 1700, he wrote to his mother 
from Canton, " I am here supercargo of a Dane 

1 Dropmore i. 3. 




ship freighted by the gentlemen of Madras, and 
if it please God, shall make no small advantage 
of it. On my return to Madras I intend going 
home by the first ship that sails thence for England/' 
Two months later he was back at Fort St George, 
and wrote to his mother that he " continued in 
his resolution of coming home/' " I find/' he 
says, " my father wavering in the matter, but unless 
his positive demands detain me, I design for England 
next September 1 ." He did not however return to 
England that year ; for in the following October 
he was back at Canton, having apparently a very 
pleasant time there ; for he wrote to a friend, 
" We live here very sociably together. Instead of 
bohea and damned strong sherry and country beer 
we drink every night good claret ; and by midnight 
after the shake of the elbow and several hearty 
curses, some people by degrees abate the commissions 
on the gross." In December he wrote to his mother 
from Canton, " I am here supercargo of the Hamp- 
shire, freighted by the freemen of Madras, and thanks 
to the assistance of my father, in a post of the most 
trust, credit and profit of any private person in 
India." But it appears that he was still determined 
to return home as soon as possible ; for he adds, 
" I hope to return to Fort St George ten days before 
the Bedford sails, on which I design for England." 
It was fortunate for him that his father did not 
allow him to carry out this intention. His early 
seafaring experiences seem to have made the Governor 
almost as good a judge of a ship as of a diamond, 
and he had misgivings of the Bedford's seaworthiness, 
which were fully justified by her fate, for on her 
way home she was lost at sea with all hands. When 
upbraiding Robert in after years for neglecting his 
advice in other matters, the Governor reminds 

1 Dropmore i. 4. 


him of this 1 . " I little expected," he says, " you 
would have paid so little attention to the memo- 
randums I gave you at parting, since my advice 
in one particular "had saved you from utter ruin. 
You may remember how importunate you were 
to go home on the Bedford, and how uneasy you 
made me by your ill natured carreage, till I permitted 
your going on the Loyal Cooke." The Loyal Cooke 
was named after Sir Thomas Cook, the Chairman 
first of the Old Company and afterwards of the 
United Company, who was to his death a loyal 
friend and supporter of Governor Pitt. This con- 
sideration may possibly have had some weight 
in her selection by the Governor as the ship to take 
his son and diamond home. She left Fort St George 
on the gth of October 1702, and carried Robert 
and the stone safely to London, with full instructions 
for the disposal of the latter and the future manage- 
ment of his father's affairs in England, which had 
hitherto been under the exclusive control of Robert's 
mother, with whom the Governor had lately been 
so much displeased that he had decided to supersede 
her, and to appoint as his agents in her place Sir 
Stephen Evans and her son Robert, an arrangement 
which, as might have been expected, led to con- 
siderable family friction and discord. The instruc- 
tions given to Robert on this occasion were as follows : 

" 1702. October 9. Fort St. George. Having made Sir 
Stephen Evance and you my attorneys, revoking all others, I 
earnestly desire you to be carefull of my business in generall, 
and receive all papers from your mother to give you an insight 

I have shewed you severall letters, wherein you have seen 
complaints against your mother, which tend to my prejudice 
in many respects, to prevent which like for the future, she is 
no more to meddle in any business of mine. 

I must also desire you to write mee by all conveyances 

1 Dropmore i. n. 




whatever, overland, Surat, or any other way : advising what 
relates to public and private affairs, and more especially what 
regards my interest, which I desire you to be very carefull and 
sollicitous in. And whereas I have intrusted under your care 
what is of great value, which you must by all means and dili- 
gence preserve, lett what accident will befall you, which God 
deliver you from ; and if you should have the misfortune, which 
God forbid, to be taken by an enemy, you must be sure to throw 
overboard every paper you have, and secure itt in the best manner 
you can and be carefull afterwards that you are not discovered. 

But if it pleases God that you arrive safe in England, I 
strictly charge you not to stirr out of the ship till Sir Stephen 
Evance or Mr. Alvarez comes on board, and would have you 
write from the first port you can send a letter to Sir Stephen 
Evance, desiring him to meet the ship as soon as possible, till 
when you will remain on board, for that you have business of 
importance to impart to him. You must also be very carefull 
of this concerne on board the ship at sea and in harbour 1 ." 

1 Dropmore i. 5. 



THE earlier months of the year 1702 were memor- 
able for Governor Pitt not only by reason of the 
blockade of Fort St George and the acquisition 
of his great diamond, but also because before Baud's 
forces were withdrawn the Old East India Company 
had been compelled at last to consent to an amalgama- 
tion with its rivals. The Governor himself appears 
to have been opposed to the settlement arrived 
at, being confident that his employers ought to 
have obtained more favourable terms. But he 
had inadvertently helped to bring it about by the 
great impetus which he had given to his Company's 
trade at Madras. As has been seen, one of the earliest 
hopes expressed by him when entering on his Gover- 
norship had been that the time which had been 
wasted by the Company's officers in quarrelling with 
and ruining one another, might in future be spent 
in improving the Company's revenues and sending 
home full ships in season. He had already made 
a considerable fortune for himself in the Eastern 
trade, and no man could be better qualified than he 
was by his experience to achieve a phenomenal success 
for his employers in this branch of his duties. During 
his first two years of office, he had had exceptional 
opportunities of distinguishing himself in this direc- 
tion. For the Company, stimulated by the near 
approach of its demise, had, by sending out to India 


a larger number of ships than usual, made unpre- 
cedented efforts to secure large immediate returns. 
And in this, thanks to the ability of their new 
Governor, they seem to have been only too successful. 
It might have been well for them, in the long run, 
if their transactions and gains at this juncture 
had been smaller. For the Protectionists of that 
day were very alert in Parliament, and the shock 
of witnessing this sudden increase in the volume 
of the Eastern trade led them to take full advantage 
of the opportunity to obtain very drastic legislation, 
which was calculated to do serious injury to both 
Companies for some years to come. This legislation 
consisted of two Acts of Parliament 1 , the first of 
which imposed an additional import duty of 15 per 
cent, on all wrought silks, Bengals, calicoes, muslins, 
and other stuffs of the manufacture of Persia, China 
or the East Indies, which might be imported into 
England between the 25th of March 1700 and the 
30th of September 1701. The second 2 , which was 
passed very shortly afterwards, and was supple- 
mentary to its predecessor, was entitled " An Act 
for the more effectual employing the Poor by en- 
couraging manufactures in this Kingdom/' Its 
preamble ran as follows : " Whereas it is most 
evident that the continuance of the trade to the 
East Indies in the same manner and proportion 
as it hath been for the two years last past must 
inevitably be to the great detriment of this Kingdom 
by exhausting the treasure thereof and melting 
down the coin, and taking away the labour of the 
people, whereby many of the manufactures of this 
nation are become excessively burdensome and 
chargeable to their respective parishes, and others 
are thereby compelled to seek for employment 

1 ii and 12 Will. Ill, c. 3. 

2 ii and 12 Will. Ill, c. 10. 



in foreign parts/' The enemies of Free Trade 
in those days had the courage of their opinions. 
They recognised that the disastrous mischiefs, which 
they set themselves to cure, were not to be removed 
by " any mere measure of Tariff Reform. They 
knew that the imposition of heavy import duties, 
the marking of the offending goods as made in India, 
and the appeal to purchasers to support home 
industries were not likely to deter the ladies of that 
generation from buying and wearing the Eastern 
fabrics, which were becoming so fatally popular 
and fashionable. They determined therefore to go 
to the root of the matter, and prohibit altogether 
the importation and use of the offending draperies. 
Their ideal of a happy island seems to have been 
very much the same as that of Jeffreys, ' ' Terra 
suis con ten ta bonis, non indiga mercis." It might 
be necessary to depart from this lofty ideal in some 
exceptional cases. For example, nobody wished 
to prohibit the import of gold and silver. On the 
contrary, it was the export of these imported articles 
that they objected to. And in this respect it ap- 
peared from more than one Parliamentary return 
that the East India merchants had been the most 
flagrant offenders. Nor would it have been safe 
to take objection to the import of saltpetre from 
the East. For without it the requisite supplies 
of gunpowder could not be provided for the un- 
productive Continental wars which had set in and 
promised to become permanent. Even the import 
of Eastern drugs and spices need not be stopped 
altogether, notwithstanding the excellences of our 
own indigenous herbs. But with clothing it was 
a very different matter. What good reason could 
there be for English men and women to depart 
from the time-honoured fashions of their ancestors ? 
What could be better for them than English cloth 


and wool, the reputation of which had stood so 
high in Europe for centuries ? If the inhabitants 
of India declined to wear these staple textiles and 
would only buy them in strictly limited quantities 
for tents and curtains and horse furniture, why 
should the English wear Indian silks and calicoes 
and muslins ? If English ladies must have silks, 
were not the products of the Spitalfields weavers 
good enough for them ? By all means let merchants 
import the raw silk, and raw cotton too, for that 
matter, but let the line be drawn at fabrics. It 
was accordingly enacted that " no wrought silks, 
or bengals, or stuffs made of or mixed with silk 
or herba of the manufacture of Persia, China or 
the East Indies, or calicoes painted, dyed, printed 
or stained/' should be brought into England, Wales 
or Berwick-upon-Tweed after the 3oth of September 
1701. If brought into the Port of London after 
that date, they were to be kept in special ware- 
houses approved by the Commissioners of Customs, 
and not to be taken out of such warehouses except 
for exportation and until approved security had 
been given that they would be exported, and not 
landed again in any part of the Kingdom. As 
it would have been inconvenient for the Government 
to provide warehouses in every port, it was further 
enacted that if the prohibited goods were landed 
in any English port other than the Port of London, 
the importer should be liable to a penalty of 500, 
besides the forfeiture of the goods, and " if any of 
them were found in any house shop or warehouse 
or any other place whatsoever (than in one of the 
approved warehouses) whether they were mixed 
sewed or made up together for sale with any other 
goods or materials or otherwise/' they were to be 
forfeited and were to be searched for and seized 
in like manner as other prohibited or customed 



goods were ; and after condemnation sold for export 
at public sale by candle, the buyer to give security 
for their exportation. Over and above the loss 
of his goods, the owner was to forfeit 200. One- 
third of the money realised by their sale and the same 
proportion of the statutory penalty was to go to 
the King and the other two-thirds to the informer. 
The only case in which the Act was not to apply 
was where the prohibited goods had been made up 
or used in any sort of apparel or furniture before 
the 29th of September 1701. 

To what extent this Act was enforced may be 
a question. But that it was far from being a dead 
letter may be inferred from the fact that some 
20 years later another Act 1 was found necessary 
to prevent multiplicity of prosecutions under it. 
This later Act recited that " several persons had 
since the 2Qth of September 1701, inadvertently 
made up and used the prohibited goods in furniture 
and household stuff, believing that the earlier Act 
extended to apparel only, and had thereby subjected 
themselves to the penalties of the Act, for remedy 
whereof and preventing the numberless prosecutions 
that might happen from such inadvertency " it 
was enacted that " the said recited Act should not 
extend to any silks, bengals or stuffs mixed with 
silk or herba, or to painted, dyed printed or stained 
calicoes manufactured in Persia, China or the East 
Indies which were made up or used in furniture 
or household stuff before the 25th of December 1722." 

This legislation, aimed as it undoubtedly was at 
the interests of both the East India Companies, 
has usually been regarded as one of the main causes 
that inclined them to come together. The Old 
Company made one last attempt in Parliament 
in the following year to get the better of its rival 

1 10 Geo. I, c. ii. 


in London as it had already done in India. Soon 
after the New Parliament had met in 1701 a Com- 
mittee of the House of Commons had been appointed 
' to receive proposals for paying off the publick 
debt and advancing the credit of the Nation/' 
The two millions advanced to the Government 
as a consideration for the monopoly of the Eastern 
trade, carried 8 per cent, interest. The Old 
Company now offered to take it over themselves, 
and charge only 5 per cent, for it 1 : a tempting 
offer which the Committee were inclined to take, 
but to which the House refused to assent, although 
the Company were willing to allow the public to 
subscribe to the two millions 2 . 

On the rejection of this proposal, the negotiations 
between the two Companies were resumed and an 
arrangement was ultimately arrived at, which seems 
to have given great satisfaction to both parties 
in London ; but which, as might have been expected, 
was not equally popular in India either with the 
Old Company's officials, who had confidently hoped 
to see the trade of their rivals collapse after 
the ridiculous exhibition of the incompetence of the 
three King's Consuls, or with the servants of the 
New Company, who were impatiently expecting 
the Home Government to intervene on their behalf. 
The Agreement come to by their masters in England 
provided for the formation of an United Company, 
on the directorship of which each of the existing 
Companies was to have an equal representation of 
12 members. The capital stock of the United 
Company was to consist of the two millions, 
advanced to the Government some years before, 
of which 1,662,000 had been subscribed by the 
New Company, 315,000 by the Old, and 23,000 
by separate traders. 

1 Journals of the House, loth May 1701. 8 Hunter 2. 363. 


The proprietors of the Old Company were to 
repay to the proprietors of the New Company 
so much of the latter's subscription as would bring 
the subscriptions of the two Companies up to the 
same level 1 . The dead stock of the two Companies 
in India, i.e. their forts, factories and buildings 
as distinguished from their money, ships or merchan- 
dise, was to be taken over by the United Company 
at a valuation of 400,000, of which 330,000 was 
reckoned to be the value of the Old Company's, 
and 70,000 the value of the New Company's dead 
stock. The New Company were therefore to pay 
the Old Company 130,000, to equalise their con- 
tributions under this head. The Old Company 
were to convey to the United Company the Islands 
of St Helena and Bombay, but to retain the use 
of their house in Leadenhall Street and their ware- 
houses in London for seven years, at the end of 
which time these were to be handed over to the 
United Company. In the meanwhile the two Com- 
panies were to hold their own Courts for their 
separate affairs and for paying their separate debts ; 
but all debts contracted for the Joint Trade were 
to be paid out of the United Company's stock. 
The two Companies were as soon as practicable to 
bring home their separate estates, paying what- 
ever dividends they might earn to their respective 
proprietors ; and therefore neither Company was 
to send out ships, bullion or goods on their separate 
account. It is not easy to see on what better 
lines a scheme of amalgamation could have been 
brought about, in which it could have been reasonably 
expected that the proprietors of both Companies 
would acquiesce. Each gained much by it. The 
proprietors of the Old Company got a safe 8 per 
cent, from the Government for their contribution 

1 Bruce 3. 486-491. 


to the United Stock. They had, it is true, to admit 
the proprietors of the New Company to an equal 
share of their profits. But this had been long 
recognised as inevitable, and as a quid pro quo for 
this concession they had a secured Parliamentary 
title to share with their rivals the monopoly of the 
Eastern trade. On the other hand, the proprietors 
of the New Company could now for the first time 
see their way to a commensurate share of the future 
yearly profits of that trade. The immediate result 
of the amalgamation was a very appreciable rise 
in the value of the stock of both Companies. Writing 
on the ist of April 1702 to Governor Pitt, Sir Stephen 
Evans says : " Old Stock that was at 75 is upon 
the Union at 105, and the new risen proportionable 1 /' 
The first tidings of this arrangement that reached 
India seem to have been brought by the survivors 
of the crew of the New Company's ship, the N orris, 
which had sailed from the Downs on the 3rd of March 
1702, and arrived on the 2nd of August in the 
Masulipatam Roads, where she blew up 2 . In a letter 
written to Sir John Gayer about a month later, 
Governor Pitt thus describes the lamentable cata- 
strophe which befell this great ship, as ill-fated 
as the unfortunate ambassador from whom she 
took her name. " She arrived/' he writes, " near 
Metchlepatam 2nd past when she mett with the 
misfortune of being sett on fire by a cask of brandy 
about 7 in the morning, and blew up about 4 in 
the afternoon, when was saved in the pinnace 
about 30 men and two women, the captain and 
about 90 men destroyed in her, 130 chests of treasure 
lost, besides Cloth, Anchors, Guns &ca to a consider- 
able amount, and nothing of the wreck can be since 
discovered 3 /' The loss of this great vessel, so eagerly 

1 Hedges 3. 76. 2 Bruce 3. 505. 

8 Hedges 3. 82. 

D. 17 


expected and so urgently needed to discharge the 
debts and obligations which had been contracted 
on behalf of the New Company at Masulipatam, 
must have been a terrible blow to poor Consul 
John Pitt. It was while searching for her wreck 
that he died suddenly from an apoplectic fit on 
the 8th of May of the following year. 

A month after the wreck of the Norris the news 
arrived at Fort St George of the death of William 
the Third and the accession of Queen Anne 1 . The 
ship by which it came probably brought some 
further particulars of the Union of the two Companies. 
The following is the entry in the Consultation 
Book of the iyth of September : 

" In pursuance to an Order of Consultation, the Flag was early 
this morning hoisted, and at eight o'clock was lowered, when 
there was two volleys small shot and one hundred cannon dis- 
charged by the half minute glass, for the death of our late gracious 
King William the Third of blessed memory. Then the Flag 
was again hoisted up, when the Mayor and all the Aldermen 
in their gowns on horseback, with twelve Halberteers and a 
Company of Grenadiers marching before them, Proclaimed 
our gracious Queen Anne at the Fort Gate, Town Hall, Sea Gate 
and Choultry Gate, with many huzzas and great demonstrations 
of joy, with three volleys small shot, and one hundred and one 
pieces of cannon discharged. And in the evening the Governor, 
attended by all the Gentlemen of the Council, with the Mayor 
and Aldermen and several other gentlemen, in palanquins 
and horseback, to the Company's Bowling Green, where there 
was a handsome treat provided ; all Europeans of fashion 
in the city being invited to the same, where they drank the Queen's 
health, and prosperity to old England, with many others." 

A few weeks later the Governor wrote the follow- 
ing letter to the Directors of the New Company, 
from which it is clear that he had by that time 
received some official intimation of the Union of 
the two Companies : 

1 Wheeler 2. n. 


" To the Honble The Directors for affairs of the English 
East India Company. 

Dated Fort St. George October the 

3rd. 1702. 

Whereas my gratitude as an Englishman obliges me 
to pay all Defference to the Blessed Memory of King William, 
so allso on this occasion I can't butt remember that Great Saying 
of his to the French Kings Plenipotentiarys at Ryswick, upon 
concluding the Peace, which furnishes mee with apt words for 
this address to You. 

Twas my Fate and nott my choice that made mee Your 
Enemy, and Since You and My Masters are united, Itt shall 
bee my utmost Endeavours to purchase Your Good Opinion 
and deserve Your Friendship. 

The bearer is my Son, whom I recommend to Your favour, 
as You shall find him meritt the Same. My service to you all. 
I am, Srs, 

Your most obedient humble servant, 
Tho. Pitt 1 ." 

This letter was in due course brought home to 
England by Robert Pitt together with the great 
Pitt diamond. It is characteristic of the writer, 
who throughout his career never failed to serve 
his employers, whoever they might be, faithfully 
and to the best of his great ability. It is unlikely 
that when it was penned he was aware of the arrange- 
ments which had been made by his new masters 
for the management of their affairs in India. Sir 
Stephen Evans, in detailing them in his letter of 
the ist of August in that year, speaks of them 
as having been then only just decided upon. The 
Governor probably felt tolerably secure of his own 
position. For of all the English officials then in 
India, he had done by far the most signal service 
to the English trade, and he was not the man to 
under-estimate the value of his own work, which 
he knew was fully recognised by his friend Sir Thomas 

1 Bruce 3. 305 Hedges 3. 79. 



Cook, the Chairman of the United Company. When 
in due course he learnt what the actual arrangements 
were that had been made by the United Company 
with respect to himself and his colleagues, they 
were very far from affording him unmixed gratifica- 
tion. At the same time he must have realised 
some of the main inherent difficulties of the situation 
in which that Company had found themselves. 
Difficult as it had been to make a satisfactory 
rearrangement of the finances of the Old and New 
Companies, that was a simple business compared 
with what had next to be faced, the establishment 
of a workable system for the transaction of the 
United Company's affairs in India, and an efficient 
staff for the working of that system, which should 
comprise all the existing officers of the two super- 
seded Companies, without unduly favouring those 
who had been on one side or the other during the 
recent conflicts. This would have been no easy 
task for an unbiased tribunal, and amongst the 
directors of the United Company it would have been 
difficult to find one man who was not very strongly 
biased, and who did not cherish more or less lively 
memories of the recent injuries which had been 
done to his Company by one half of the men on 
whose merits he had now to record his opinion. 
The three Presidents of the New Company had been 
utter failures, and it was inevitable that they should 
be deprived of their Consular powers, which ought 
never to have been given them, and which had 
created so much offence in India. But to supersede 
them by promoting to their places the men who 
had done their best to bring their failures about 
must have been very repugnant to the representatives 
of the New Company. 

Ultimately a majority of the Directors seem 
to have come to the conclusion that the best course 


to take was to place the least deserving in more 
or less dignified positions, where it was hoped they 
could not do very much harm, and to offer the more 
successful ones the minimum concessions that were 
likely to induce them to remain in their present 
posts. In the meanwhile they were all exhorted 
to sink their differences ; to let bygones be bygones ; 
and to work harmoniously together, an exhortation 
to which most of them were likely to attach as 
much importance as they were wont to concede 
to the homilies addressed to them once a week 
from the pulpit. 

In Madras Governor Pitt was appointed Governor 
and President of Fort St George ; but his cousin 
John Pitt was made Governor of Fort St David, 
with an independent power in civil and military 
affairs, and the promise that he should succeed to 
the Governorship of Fort St George on the death 
or retirement of the present Governor 1 . In the 
meanwhile he was to be subordinate to Governor 
Pitt and his Council in all matters regarding trade 
and investments, in which his incapacity had been 
lately so clearly demonstrated. It appears from 
a letter to the Governor from Sir Stephen Evans 
that an attempt had been made by the directors, 
who represented the New Company, to place the 
two kinsmen on an equality 2 . " There arose/' he 
writes, " a discourse, when the Old and New Company 
Cheifs mett how they should sitt, particularly as 
to yourself, the New proposed Mr. Jno Pitt should 
come up and wait on you at Fort St George, and 
that you should take the Chair one day and Mr. 
Jno Pitt the next, but it was at last agreed that 
Hee should sitt at your left hand, the Old Court 
was very hearty to Your Interest, and most of the 
New spoke with great respect of you." Though 

1 Bruce 3. 497. 2 Hedges 3. 76. 


they may have done so, it is clear from their sub- 
sequent conduct that some of them cherished a 
deep-rooted antipathy to Governor Pitt, and only 
waited for an opportunity to do him as much injury 
as they could. The two kinsmen never sat together 
in Council. For John Pitt died before the news 
of his fresh appointment reached Madras. " Had 
he lived," his cousin wrote to Captain Edward 
Harrison the next year, " there would have been 
strange Rotation work between him and me, for 
'twas impossible wee could ever be reconciled, for 
I think him the ungratefullest wretch that ever 
was borne. He is dead and there is an end of it." 

In Bombay Governor Pitt's colleagues fared 
far worse than he did. It was decided that Sir 
John Gayer, who was at this time a prisoner in 
Surat in the hands of the Mogul Governor, should, 
when released from his confinement, take up his 
quarters in the fortress of Bombay, which he ought 
never to have quitted ; and that he should become 
Governor of the Presidency with Waite as his 
subordinate at Surat. In the meanwhile Waite 
was ordered to spare no pains to induce the Mogul's 
Governor to set Gayer free, and until this was 
effected he was to act temporarily as Governor 
of the Presidency. Waite's character was so no- 
torious that it is difficult to believe that some at 
any rate of the directors of the Company who sup- 
ported this arrangement were not aware of what 
would be the probable result of these infatuated 
orders, the carrying out of which would have imposed 
some strain upon the honesty of far more scrupulous 
men than Waite. The consequences to poor Gayer 
were very serious. Waite had no mind to become 
a subordinate to his late rival ; and it is said that 
he not only refrained from informing the native 
Governor that the latter was now the chosen Chief 


of the United Company in that Province, but went 
so far as to pay him a heavy bribe for the purpose 
of keeping Gayer under lock and key 1 . He then 
" continued for six more years his carnival of misrule 
outraging even the lax public opinion of the English 
community of Surat by an incestuous marriage 
with his niece, though his own wife was still living 
in England/' It was not until 1708 that orders 
came from England for his dismissal. But before 
they reached India his own Council had -been 
compelled to place him under restraint. Nobody 
who has tried to read through any of his rambling, 
incoherent letters to the Court can help feeling 
some doubt as to his sanity. That the United 
Company should have permitted him to retain 
office so long as President of Bombay is inexplicable, 
except on the supposition that they were divided 
in opinion, that his supporters at home believed 
him to be a stronger man than Gayer, and that 
he persistently kept back from the Company any 
adverse reports that his officials might have desired 
to send to England. That he ruled the latter 
with a rod of iron is indisputable. His brutality 
was such that they did not dare to oppose him, 
and no one from any of the other Presidencies 
was willing to serve under him. The Court 
offered the post of Deputy Governor of Surat to 
one of Governor Pitt's Council, a Mr Brabourne, 
who declined to accept it. Writing to the Court in 
September 1706 with reference to this offer, Governor 
Pitt says 2 : "If yourselves did hear what Character 
in this place there is given of Bombay, and the 
Person that is at the head of your Affairs there, 
you wou'd not blame his (i.e. Brabourne's) refusal, 
for I have heard severall say that they had rather 

1 Hunter 2. 374 ; Bruce 3. 564, 565. 

2 Hedges 2. 147. 


be a private Centenell in Fort St George than to 
serve as Second under Sr Nicholas ; and if itt 
be true, what all say that come thence, I can make 
no other judgment" (I wish I may be mistaken) 
then that he'll ruine all, and yett I hear he's 
the New Company's Saint, and such may they 
always have." Gayer did not obtain his release 
until 1710. Even then his ill-luck clung to him. 
The ship in which he was returning home was 
attacked by four French ships of war off Cape 
Comorin, and surrendered after a desperate resistance, 
in which he was wounded. He died of his wounds, 
a prisoner in the hands of the French. 

The Court of the United Company were equally 
divided on the question whether Littleton or Beard 
should be the New President for Bengal ; and the 
appointment was therefore deferred for a year 1 , 
during which interval it was decided that the business 
of the United Trade should be carried on by a 
Committee, composed of the four senior members 
of the Councils of the New and Old Companies, 
of which the first member of each was to take the 
chair in alternate weeks ; Beard and Littleton in 
the meanwhile directing their attention solely to 
the winding up of the separate affairs of their respec- 
tive Companies. They and the two Councils were 
all to take up their quarters at Chuttannuttee, it 
being at last recognised at home that the Company's 
servants would be safer there under the protection 
of the guns of Fort William than they would be 
at Hugli. The Rotation Government does not seem 
to have been a success. Writing to the Secretary 
at the East India House in December 1704, Governor 
Pitt says of it : ' 'Tis become the ridicule of India, 
both Europeans and natives 2 . " And again in another 
letter to a friend : " In Bengali all things are pretty 

1 Bruce 3. 500. a Hedges 2. 106. 


quiet, only jangling in the Rotation Government 
all talkers and no hearers/' The absurdity of 
delegating the conduct of the Company's affairs 
in Bengal to eight talkative gentlemen, each of whose 
object was to convince the others that he. was right 
and they were wrong, could have appealed to no 
man more strongly than to the masterful Governor 
Pitt, whose experiences as a sea captain and President 
of Madras must have convinced him of the absolute 
necessity of an undivided control. 

Neither Beard nor Littleton lived to return 
to England. Beard, who had been Pitt's faithful 
coadjutor in the contest between the two Companies, 
and who deserved a better fate, died in September 
1705 at Fort St George, whither he had retired 
for the benefit of his failing health 1 . Littleton 
lived on at Fort William, where he died some two 
years later, in discreditable circumstances, heavily 
in debt to the New Company 2 . He had been an 
old friend of Governor Pitt, in whose early days 
he had been Chief of the Kasimbazar factory, 
a post from which he had been dismissed in conse- 
quence of his dealings with interlopers. Pitt seems 
to the end to have had a kindly feeling towards 
him. After his dismissal by the Old Company 
Littleton had remained in England, until by means 
of his family influence in Parliament he was ap- 
pointed by the New Company their President in 
Bengal. Before leaving England he narrowly escaped 
being discharged by his new masters, owing to 
his remaining longer than he need have done in 
the Downs. He seems to have been a very bad 
man of business ; and his accounts soon got into 
inextricable confusion on his arrival in Bengal. 
He was accused by the New Company of malversa- 
tion, and of using their moneys and credit for the 

1 Hedges 2. 106. 2 Hedges 2. 221. 


purposes of his private trade. Whether he did so 
or not, his private adventures were not successful 
Nobody seems to have been able to get money out 
of him. He occupied at Hugli a house belonging 
to Governor Pitt, who complains that he paid him 
no rent for it, although 1600 rupees had lately 
been expended on its repairs 1 . Writing to him in 
November 1702, after the Union of the two Companies, 
Pitt says 2 : 

" You call me your Antient ffriend, but you are kinder to 
any new one, for is it not hard that you don't allow me some 
thing towards the extraordinary repairs I gave your house, 
which amount I am sure was between 16 and 1800 rupees, or 
you had found it flatt Smooth ? I always esteem'd you a man 
of Conscience, pray retaine a little of it for me, and think of 

this matter Tis strange that you Don't know the Governor 

and Fort William, having been soe great a thorne in your side, I 
hear your Copper is detain'd for Outrages you have committed, 
and infringing the Liberty and property of the Honble John 
Beard Esqr, and rather than you'de want a billiard table, 'tis 
said you have seiz'd another man's house to set it up in. I hope 
the matter is compos'd and that by this time you are in quiet 
possession of your Copper. 

I want 3 or 4 hours discourse with you to set you right 
in your old honest principles till when I conclude this, and am 


Your antient ffriend and humble servant, 
Thos. Pitt." 

The two old friends never seem to have met 
again. Their friendship is noteworthy, in view of 
the great intimacy between their two families in 
after years. 

The resentment of the Governor towards the 
memory of his cousin John Pitt, who had also 
been an old friend of his in earlier days, is a striking 
contrast to the kindly recollection which he seems 
to have entertained of Littleton. It illustrates a 
less amiable side of his character. His animosity 

1 Hedges 3. 63. 2 Hedges 3. 80. 


was in no way abated by his unfortunate kinsman's 
death. Writing some months afterwards to one 
who had been a friend to them both, he says 1 : 

" I having said before that the differences between my 
Couzen Pitt and Selfe were irreconcileable, may be t'would seem 
odd, if I gave you noe reasons for the same. My Couzen Pitt 
when I came to India in the Crown " (i.e. in his first very suc- 
cessful interloping expedition to rescue Vincent), " I found him 
in a deplorable condition, cast wholy off by his Uncle George, 
who had Supported him from his infancy, with whome I inter- 
ceded to reinstate him in his favour, but found 'twas to noe 
purpose. I then advis'd him to come out to India, and not 
only Supply'd him with money for his outset, but likewise an 
adventure, whereby he appeared handsomely abroad, and from 
that time Supply'd him in such a manner as I may say without 
vanity I was, under God, his only Support, yet you see in what 
manner he came into this Road, what an Impudent Letter he 
sent me, and many others since, which I still keep by me, and 
permitted his wife to treat me at his table with the worst of 
Language, th6 he at the same time would be drinking my health ; 
and giving his Service, if there was anybody present that was 
coming hither ; and when he came out first he wrote me that 
he was Godfather to my Son borne after my departure, on whome 
in case of failure of Issue male he had Settl'd what he had in 
the world, and I had done the same by him at my comeing out 
of England Tis not my busyness to Censure the manage- 
ment of my kinsman, who was very great and wise in his own 
thoughts, but this Tie write to you, that there are no generall 
books kept, noe consultations, and I believe your Company 
indebted at Metchlepatam a farr greater Sum than they, think 

of The Woman some time after her husband's death desir'd 

to remove his Corps hither, and that I would complement him, 
as he had bore the King's Commission, which I refus'd, upon 
account that he did not Salute the King's fflagg when he came 
into this Road. The copies of her and my letter I here enclose. 
She came hither the latter end of August without taking any 
notice of me or I of her.'* 

In another letter to his cousin Thomas Pitt, 
a Master in Chancery, he wrote 2 : 

"I doubt not but you'le have heard of the death of our good 
Kindred Mr. Jno Pitt, which was in May last, who thought him 

1 Hedges 3. 86. 2 Hedges 3. 87. 


Selfe noe less than a Roman Consul, which made him grow soe 
proud and Soe ungrateful as not to be parallel'd. I had Reason 
to expect to have found a ffriend in him, but it prov'd otherwise, 
yet never in his power to doe me any prejudice, tho he has not 

been wanting to attempt it 

I should have been very glad to have heard how it was 
with Cozen George Pitt, and that part of our ffamily, for that I 
hear 'twas a common saying by the deceased Jno and his Lady 
that they did not doubt but to live to have the possession of 
Strathfield Sea, but She says now all her hopes are for her son, 
who if he be noe better than the ffather, 'tis not great matter, 
if there be ever any more of the breed of him." 

To another cousin he writes 1 : 

" Preferment had most strangely altered him and made him 
forget his greatest obligations. He acquainted all people that 
he and I was allways upon equall termes, and that I never did 
him any kindness. He was Soe ignorant as to phancy that his 
diminutive title of Consul made him equall to the Governor of 
Ffort St. George, but he found it otherwise. I doubt not but 
you'le have a great Complaint about my denying his Corps 
buryall here with the Complement as his Wife desir'd, the Reason 
of which was the manner of his comeing in this Road without 
paying any Respect to the King's fflagg. His Wife came here in 
August last, who thought it not worth her While to take any 
notice of me, nor I of her, Soe that I have never seen her. Tis 
very unhappy that these differences should be between relations, 
but I appeal to all mankind, who has been the egressor." 

In reading these letters it is only fair to bear 
in mind that they were written whilst the Governor 
was still smarting from the effects of his recent 
conflict with his cousin and for the purpose of 
explaining to his relations the part he had taken 
in it. A few years later (ayth September 1707), 

any prejudice, and whenever any of their affaires 
have been discours'd before me, I alsoe chose Rather 
to be Neutre then Judge or party and shall ever 

1 Hedges 3. 88. * Hedges 3. 108. 


doe soe." And in 1720, as Sir Henry Yule has 
pointed out 1 , he allowed the son of Consul John 
Pitt to be elected as his colleague as member of 
Parliament for Old Sarum, a very tangible proof 
that he had no inclination to visit the sins of the 
father upon his child. The son of his old enemy 
whom he thus befriended, and who had been born 
at Fort St George, became its Governor in 17302. 

1 Hedges 3. 149. 

2 Mrs Frank Penny's History of Fort St George, p. 151. 



GOVERNOR PITT'S anxieties about his great dia- 
mond seem to have increased rather than diminished 
after it had passed out of his own keeping into 
that of his son, of whose manifold shortcomings 
and weaknesses he must have been only too painfully 
aware. Within a week after the Loyal Cooke had 
sailed for England he wrote the following letter 
to Robert 1 : 

" 1702. October 15. Fort St George. 

I received no letter from you after you got aboard. 
I hope you will not be so forgetful of my instructions, and the 
good advice I have often given you. I hope this will meet you 
arrived safe at St. Helena, or in England, with what I have com- 
mitted to your charge, which I hope will be well disposed of by 
you and those I have conjoined with you. The true value I 
must never expect ; but I hope you will never part with it for 
much less. I gave you an account how to estimate the value, 
which I hope you are master of. 

It is no small charge that I have entrusted you with, being 
the management of all my affairs : so that it requires your 
utmost care and industry to discharge it to my likeing. Be 
sure not to let slip any opportunity of writing. My credit as 
well as interest depends very much on your prudent management 
of yourself. If any should be inquisitive (I mean Sir Stephen 
or Mr. Alvarez) what that cost, you may tell them about 130,000 
pagodas. If the thing be kept secret, and well managed, it 

must yield an immense sum of money Avoid all vices, 

and an inconvenient or disreputable marriage." 

There are two points that call for explanation 
in this letter. The directions for estimating the 

1 Dropmore i. 5. 


value of the stone, with which Pitt hopes that his 
son is familiar, were no doubt taken from Tavernier 1 , 
who estimates that a diamond properly cut and 
weighing i carat, if of uniform water, lively 
and without a flaw, is worth 150 livres or more 
(11. 55.) and that in order to ascertain the value 
of any larger diamond the number of carats which 
it weighs should be squared, and then multiplied 
by the value of a i carat diamond. The first 
example which he gives of the application of this 
rule is a 12 carat diamond, the value of which, 
if of first class quality, he estimates at 12 x 12 
x 11. 5$. = 1620. The Great Mogul diamond, of 
which he gives a full description and illustration, 
weighed, he tells us, " 279^- carats, was of perfect 
water and good form and had only one small flaw 
in the edge of the basal circumference of the stone/' 
By the above system of calculation he estimated 
its value at 879,245. Governor Pitt was evidently 
in hopes that his own diamond, when cut into a 
brilliant, would be as good as, if not better than, 
the Mogul diamond. In its rough state it weighed, 
as he had already told Sir Stephen Evans, 426 
carats, and he believed that it would not lose more 
than one-fourth in the cutting. Had he been right 
in this opinion, it would have been in its finished 
state a larger stone than the Great Mogul. But 
he seems not to have taken sufficiently into account 
in his calculations the fact that the Great Mogul, 
according to Tavernier, had in its rough state 
weighed 793 carats ; and that if his diamond were 
to lose an equally large proportion of its weight 
in the process of becoming a brilliant, it would end 
by being considerably smaller than the Great Mogul. 
The second point is the reference in the letter 
to Sir Stephen Evans and Mr Alvarez (Alvares 

1 Tavernier 2. 95-98. 


or Alvaro Da Foncesca). Evans, as has already 
been mentioned, was to be Robert Pitt's colleague 
in the management of the Governor's affairs at 
home. But in dealing with the diamond, the 
Governor was desirous that Da Foncesca should 
be associated with them, who was apparently an 
expert in the diamond trade, having been a free 
merchant at Fort St George. The terms on which 
the two men stood with each other may be gathered 
from a letter to the Governor from Da Foncesca, 
dated the 2ist of November of the previous year, 
of which the following is an extract : 

" I cannot omitt Reflecting now and then on those merry 
hours I use to spend with your Honour and the Rest of our 
friends in the Company's Garden, where wee could injoy our 
Bottle without being disturbed with these Frightfull Rumors 
of Warr, as here wee are every day 1 ." 

As a matter of fact, the Governor seems to 
have had greater confidence in the judgment of Da 
Foncesca than in that of Evans in the matter of 
diamonds, notwithstanding the fact that the latter 
was the Court Jeweller. But it is clear from his 
letter to Robert that he wished both men to be 
misled as to the price which he had paid for the 
diamond, and that they should believe that he had 
given 130,000 pagodas for it, whereas as a matter 
of fact he had only given 48.000. 

In explanation of this, it should be borne in 
mind that the success of the diamond trade carried 
on by the Governor and his colleagues at Fort 
St George depended to a great extent on keeping 
the natives in India in ignorance of the prices which 
the stones fetched in England, and on the main- 
tenance of secrecy in England as to the prices at 
which they had been bought in India. As a matter 
of fact, as has already been seen 2 , as soon as the native 

1 Hedges 3. 70. 2 See p. 236. 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 273 

merchants had learnt from Pluymer the prices paid 
for their diamonds in London, they demanded so 
much for them as seriously to diminish the profits 
of the trade. Nor can there be any doubt that the 
disclosure in London of the prices paid for the 
diamonds in India would have diminished their 
selling value in London. 

On the 27th of January 1703 Governor Pitt 
wrote to Da Foncesca 1 : 

" The Consignment I made Sr Stephen Evance, Your Selfe 
and My Son I hope came Safe to your hands, and that 'twill 
answer in goodness to the full as I represented it, the Satisfaction 
I have of your abilities, as well as integrity in Such matters gives 
me great hope 'twill answer my expectations, 'tis most Certain 
there is not the fellow of it in the world, there has been Some 
Smattering of it in the Countrey, for which Severall were sent 
for up to the King, who I hear of late are come off with Impunity 
but great Charge. The King of Ffrance or Spaine will in ail 
probability be the likelyest Chapmen for it, unless our Parlia- 
ment, upon good success in some noble undertaking, will be Soe 
Generous as to buy it for the Crown of England. I have left 
it to your discretion whether you'll make a Single or two Stones 
of it, but remember don't part with it without its full value, 
which must be very Considerable, Computing it as those of an 
inferior magnitude are sold." 

The next day he wrote the following letter to 
Evans, Da Foncesca and his son 2 : 

" 17023. January 28. Fort St. George. 

I have lately for my diversion been perusing Taverneir, 
whose method of calculating the value of great stones I observe ; 
and if what I sent you, being made a single stone and when cut 
will weigh about 300 carats, according to his calculation, it would 
be worth 800,000. How that calculation will hold in the 
present time I am to seek, and therefore depend upon your 
knowledge and integrity. 

We are informed here that it is a war : God grant this 
concern may escape the danger thereof. I believe, whenever 
peace comes, the King of France or Spain will be the fairest 
chapman for it, being the greatest Jewell in the world : though 

1 Hedges 3. 127. * Dropmore I. 6. 

D. 18 


I could wish it were purchased for the Crown of England, pro- 
vided they will come up to the value of it. 

Since it went hence there has been some smattering of it 
in the country as having been seen in the mines ; and several 
eminent persons there about have been sent for by the King, 
and been put to great charge and trouble, but have at last 
returned in a whole skin. 

I doubt not you will take care that it be lodged in a secure 
place and if the times will not admit of your selling it at its 
full value, I hope you will be very cautious of letting it go out 
of your own possession. I am thinking of many things relating 
to this matter, but having entrusted it to men of honour and 
judgment, shall leave it entirely at your disposal. 

Since writeing the above, Abendana " (a well-known native 
diamond merchant) " is come hither with his family, who by his 
discourse I find hee has heard something of the businesse in the 
mines, butt knows nothing of my having bought it. You may 
bee sure I think dayly of this matter, and upon often meditating 
thereon, I am of opinion that it bee kept in tire, and if you 
thinke fitt to cutt it, I believe it will come out a cleane stone 
of about three hundred caratts, which I hope may bee worth, 
att least fifteene hundred pounds per caratt. It must be sold 
directly to some great prince and not to a club of people that 
shall make more advantage of it than myselfe, who have run 
the greatest of risgoes to purchase it. The foregoing is my opinion, 
but noe order to you, being well satisfy'd in your worth, and 
assured you will doe for mee as for yourselves." 

A week afterwards he wrote to Evans the follow- 
ing letter 1 : 

" ffeby the 3rd 1703. 

" I hope my Concerne on the Loyall Cooke will come safe to 
your hand, and doubt not but you'le doe all you can to Con- 
tribute to the well disposall thereof, 'tis a very good Water, 
ffree from all foules and noe fflaws but what will be worked out, 
and the Shape is not bad, and upon the best enquiry I can make, 
'tis certainly the finest Jewell in the World, and worth an immense 
Sum, and I hope you'le never part with it but for its reall value, 
which it may be you'le not be able to get dureing the Warr, to 
which God send a happy and Speedy conclusion, when I doubt 
not but you'le have Chapmen enough for it, for Princes generally 
covet Such Jewells as cannot be parallel'd, and I am sure that 
cannot, for its excellency and magnitude, and 'tis my opinion 
'tis best to keep it one Stone, which I leave wholy to you and the 
rest consign'd to." 

1 Hedges 3. 127. 




Seven days later he wrote to Evans and his son 
jointly : 

" ffeby loth 1703. 

" I hope my Son will be Safe arriv'd, and that that great 
Concern of mine will come safe to your hands, which I doubt 
not but you'le dispose of to my most advantage, or lett it lye 
bye till you are offer'd the full value thereof. 

Tis my opinion to Continue it a Single Stone, which I am 
sure is not to be parrellel'd in the world, which must certainly 
be coveted by the richest of Princes when 'tis a peace, and by 
the Calculate I make when I am by my Selfe, Computeing it as 
large Stones have been sold, and this in proportion to 'em, when 
'tis Cutt, it must be worth 1500 a Caret if not more. I would 
never have it trusted out of your hands upon noe account what- 
ever, and if you are in treaty with any ff orreign Prince about it, 
I believe my Son may be a proper Person to send with the 
Modell or what directions you Shall think fitt, but take care he 
receives no money on that account in a fforeign Countrey for 
fear they Strip him of it before he gets out of it." 

These letters following, as they do, so closely 
one on the top of the other show how persistently 
at this time the Governor's mind dwelt on thoughts 
of the future fate of his beloved jewel, and help 
us to sympathise with him in the nervous suspense 
with which he must have awaited the news of its 
safe arrival in England. His restless fears on its 
behalf cannot but have been intensified by the 
rumours that were beginning to reach India of 
the loss of the Bedford, which was carrying home 
for him a diamond second only in value to that 
of which he wrote. On the igth of September 
of that year, in a letter to his friend Sir John Fleet, 
he says 1 : " I am extremely concerned at the ill news 
wrote us from the Cape and Mauritius of the Bedford, 
but trust in God 'tis not true : hope that she gott 
about the Cape or Winter'd at St. Laurence" 
(Madagascar), "for that Ship's Cargoe is the flower 
of our good services, which would leave the greatest 

1 Hedges 3. 82. 

18 2 


impression upon me immagineable should she doe 
otherwise then well, nor can I rest within my Selfe 
till I hear she is soe." 

In his parting instructions he had urged his 
son to write to him by all conveyances whatever, 
overland, Surat, or any other way, that is to say, 
on every occasion on which it was possible to send 
letters from England to India. But Robert had 
other things to do besides attending to his father's 
wishes. Very shortly after reaching London he 
had become engaged to Harriet Villiers, the sister 
of the Earl of Grandison ; and he seems to have 
informed his father of the engagement in a letter 
dated the 27th of May 1703. In this letter he can 
hardly have failed to mention the safe arrival of 
the diamond in London. But he seems to have 
given very scanty details about it or any other 
of his father's affairs until the 3oth of December 
in that year, when he wrote 1 : 

" I can now give you full tidings of the safety of your great 
concern here in England." " I hope that something will be done 
in your grand affair by next Spring and that I shall be able to 
have a crystal model made of it in its true polite shape, by showing 
which as a thing that might possibly be found, and by con- 
sulting Amsterdam Jews, some insight might be obtained as to 
the real value. The King of Prussia, if able, is the likeliest 
chapman at present ; though, were peace made, the King of 
France would certainly be the man. Mr. Cope has the cutting 
of it. Our present design is a single stone and we hope to make 
it a brilliant. It proves the first water, but will be diminished 
almost one half in cutting. We have so managed it that what 
is cut off is in great pieces, and will sell for a good sum of money. 
Mr. Cope says that when finished, it will weigh about 280 carefs, 
and will be the wonder of the world. We found means to enter 
it safely through the customs and go on briskly perfecting it 
for sale. When you write, it were better for fear of the mis- 
carriage of a letter, to say little about it, and what you do say, 
to have a key to ; by which means none but ourselves will 
understand it. On coming near England I thought it not safe 

1 Dropmore i. 8. 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 277 

to keep it as you delivered it to me; and for better security 
let Captain Boulton into the secret. We secured it, I think, 
so effectually, that had we been taken, we had preserved it. 
I presented him with a large silver punch bowl to the value of 
thirty-odd pounds on your account, which for his fidelity ever 
since in the matter, he deserved." 

What precautions had been taken for preserving 
the stone, in the event of the Loyal Cooke being 
captured by French privateers in the Channel, 
are not stated. The tradition seems to be that 
it left India concealed in the heel of Robert's shoe 1 . 
Probably Captain Boulton had found some safer 
hiding place for it. By what means it was entered 
safely through the customs can only be conjectured. 
That customs duty was paid in respect of it seems 
clear from a letter from the Governor to Sir Stephen 
Evans in the following September. It would have 
been interesting to know what was the estimated 
value of the diamond for the purposes of this duty. 
Streeter, in The Great Diamonds of the World, says 
that it was charged in the original bill of lading 
at 6500 pagodas only, and sent home in the Bedford 
(Captain John Hudson) ; but the bill of lading 
to which he refers evidently relates to the smaller 
diamond, which, as already mentioned, the Governor 
had sent home by the Bedford and which was lost 
at sea. 

The reassuring news of the safety of the diamond 
must have been to some extent discounted by the 
concluding paragraphs of Robert Pitt's letter, which 
were as follows : 

" Your affairs have been in all respects mismanaged, and we 
hope by the next ships to give you a particular account of them." 

" You always advised me against a disreputable marriage, 
which I have avoided by marrying a lady of family and char- 
acter, with the approval of my mother and of uncle Curgenven. 
Her fortune is but 2000, and 1000 more after the death of her 

1 Rosebery i. 8. 


father in law, Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. I hope I shall not 
be abandoned by you at a time when I have no other support 
but yourself, since my alliance with the greatest families in 
England is as much to your credit, as my wife will be a comfort 
to you when you know her. My present happiness is altogether 
due to you, as it was the universal report of your good and 
generous character that induced Lady Grandison to give me her 
daughter. Her age is 21, her portrait and letter herewith speak 
for themselves ; and I hope to obtain some genteel employment 
by the intercession of her relatives." 

If Robert hoped by this diplomatic account 
of his marriage to appease his father's resentment 
at his delay in writing to him and his neglect to 
give him full information of his affairs and family, he 
must have been woefully disappointed. He should 
have written earlier. The news of his marriage 
had already reached India from an unfriendly 
source. Writing to Captain Edward Harrison in 
China in April 1704, the Governor says 1 : 

" Yours of the 2ist May I received via Anjengo, the 8th 
instant. I heartily thank you for it, and all the news contain'd 
therein unless it be that part relating to my disobedient Son, 
who has not follow'd any one direction or order of mine, or had 
any regard to the advice I gave him before he parted with me. 
His Sudden Captivation must certainly have render'd him a light 
and inconsiderate fellow in the eyes of all men of busyness and 

The Lady I'me a Stranger to, and I believe shall allways 
be Soe, if her Character answers what you write, I wish she 
have not the worst of it, th6 with her fortune and what he 
has of his own, with the advantages I have given him in his 
Education are very good working tools, and all that he must 
ever expect from me, th6 he him Selfe not only Sets a value 
upon the Lady and her fortune but also upon the interest of 
the ffamily which I have little regard to, since that I can remember 
I never heard you say that you had any advantage thereby. 

You write me that you had noe hand in this matter, 
therefore I am oblidg'd to Credit it, yet I wish you had given 
him ffriendly advice to have desisted from soe foolish and Sud- 
daine an undertaking. I have received a letter from him which 
gives me little or noe satisfaction in my own busyness, nor does 

1 Hedges 3. 93. 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 279 

he mention so much when he arriv'd at Milford Haven or London, 
or has a Brother or Sister, or had deliver'd a Letter of mine 
sent by him." 

In his reply to Robert himself, he says 1 : 

" In your letter of the 27th of May you say there is a match 
on foot between you and the lady mentioned. I believe you 
play the same game with me as with your mother, who writes 
me you were married before she saw your wife; and I believe 
you were so before you wrote to me, for several correspondents 
tell me that was the first thing you did, which has justly brought 
you under the character of a giddy and inconsiderate young 
fellow. I guess the cause of your writing so slender an account 
of my affairs, and taking no notice of brother or sister, friend 
or relation ; nor do you mention anything in regard to the delivery 
of many letters I sent by you. 

As to your marriage, what I chiefly dislike is its sudden- 
ness ; and much wonder you desire a present enlargement of 
your fortune, which with your wife's cannot be much less than 
10,000 ; a very good fortune for a young man qualified for 
business. I hope the great interest you value yourself on, will 
procure you some considerable employ." 

This reply was accompanied by a peremptory 
demand, addressed to Evans and Robert jointly 
that " my son, Robert Pitt, is to make good to 
my cash 300 dollars paid to discharge his bill from 
the Cape ; also 1000, which his mother gave him " 
(presumably as a wedding present), " she not having 
power to dispose of a penny of mine, nor ever shall/' 

It is not unlikely that this uncompromising 
mandate may have led Lady Grandison to modify 
the favourable opinion which, according to Robert, 
she had formed " of the good and generous character " 
of his father. 

But to return to the diamond. 

The same ship that brought to Fort St George 
Robert Pitt's announcement of his marriage seems 
also to have carried the refusal of Da Foncesca to 
accept any responsibility in the care and disposal of 
the stone 2 . In writing back to Evans, the Governor 

1 Dropmore i. i. 2 Hedges 3. 129. 


savs: "Tis not a little unkind that Mr. Alvares 
refuses me his assistance in the matter, for which 
I wish I knew his reasons, for what trouble can 
accrew since you have enter'd it and paid the Customs, 
and I thanke you for the care you resolve to take 
of it, and I take notice what progress you have made 
in it, and the prospect you have of its being most 
excellent, of which I assure you there is not the 
fellow in the world at present. Of this I have wrote 
fully in my letter to you and my Sone which I desire 
you'le observe/' 

The following is an extract from the letter here 
referred to 1 : 

" Twas Well come news to hear of the Safe arrivall of that 
Concerne of mine, and observe the progress you have made in 
Cutting it, of which you should have wrote me fully in your 
joynt Letter, of which there is a smattering thereof in both your 
particular; 'tis very fortunate that it proves soe good, and 
'tis my desire that it be made one Brillion which I would not 
have sold (unless it be for a trifle) less than fifteen hundred 
pounds a carrat, tho by all computations that I can make from 
Presidents of that nature, 'tis worth much more. Tis my whole 
dependance, and therefore it must be Sold to the best advantage, 
for which reason I have trusted it in the hands of a ffriend and 
a Sone, whose care I doubt not, but will likewise preserve it 
from Any accident of ffire or any other event, and I approve of 
your locking it up, and defer the Sale till after the Warr." 

Some months afterwards he was somewhat 
disappointed at hearing that the pieces up to that 
time cut off the diamond had produced only 1500, 
and wrote to Evans and Robert jointly on the 
5th of February 17052 : 

" You wrote that the Peices Saw'd off will yeild about 1500, 
which I hope was a mistake, and that there was a Cypher wanted 
to make it thousands, for certainly the peices must be extra- 
ordinarily well spread, which makes it most valuable, and those 
that judge of it here by the modell make it very considerable. 
But of that I doubt not but you'le take care that he that cuts 

1 Hedges 3. 128 * Hedges 3. 129. 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 281 

it do's not abuse me. Let it be Kept a Secret, and not any one 
person whatever to see it, unless it be to the advantage of the 
Sale of it. My Wife, Mr. Yale, and Capt Harrison have given 
me hints of it, but I have wrote 'em there is noe such thing. 
Here has been and is at this time great inquiry after it by orders 
from the King. The greatest man that had a hand in the Sale 
is dead, and another is sent up for him ; how he'll come off 
I dont know, therefore it as much imports me to have it a secret 
in England as here, for Reasons I shall give you when I see you." 

That the secret had long ago been divulged 
in many quarters in England appears from a letter, 
which Robert had written to him a year before 1 , 
in which the following passage occurs : " Intelligence 
of your great concern was certainly divulged before 
I came home by some person you let into the 
secret. The minute I arrived it was said I brought 
it. The same person has said he was sure you 
would not have let me come home, unless it 
was to bring that. There was a great bustle at 
first, but now it is safely entered, and all is hush/' 
It would also seem from the above letter from the 
Governor himself that he had been consulting 
some persons at Fort St George to whom he had 
shown the model of it. 

About this time he wrote to Da Foncesca again 
entreating him to give his assistance and advice. 
" I doe/' he says, " most earnestly reiterate my 
former request to you for your care in that grand 
Concerne of mine the good success of which Crowns 
all my labours, which have been not a little fateaguing 
insoemuch that a little ease and retirement is very 
desirable by me, therefore pray as a irriend give 
your advice and assistance in that great matter, 
and direct my Sone how he shall act in it 2 /' 

Before this letter can have reached England 
his son had written to him on the i8th of December 

1 Dropmore i. 9. 2 Hedges 3. 129. 


" The cutting of your grand concern licks off a world of 
money, and I hope that by the next ships you will have made 
us some remittances, else it will be very bare with us. I also 
hope that the pieces that will be cut off will greatly help to 
defray the charge. We have lately sold three for 2000, and 
anticipate that those to come off will fetch as good a sum. The 
sawing them off is a vast charge : but otherwise they must 
have been cut into powder so what they produce above the 
charge is clear gain. I hope that when you arrive you will 
find it finished, and the finest brilliant in the world. The only 
defect I fear is the want of a chapman, while the war lasts ; 
but the victories of the Duke of Marlborough, last summer, 
give hopes of a speedy peace 1 ." 

The next news which the Governor received 
of his grand concern must have been a cruel blow 
to his fondest expectations. He had confidently 
hoped that when completely cut it would turn 
out a larger brilliant than the Great Mogul, which 
weighed rather less than 280 carats. He had 
estimated that it would " come out a cleane stone 
of about 300 carats/' and had been told that Cope 
had thought it would weigh when finished about 
280 carats. The price realised for the pieces cut 
off probably confirmed the Governor in his opinion 
that his was the truer estimate of the two. At 
1500 a carat, he might reasonably expect 450,000 
for the stone, if his estimate was correct, and 420,000 
if Cope was right. We may be sure that in the 
frequent meditations in which he indulged, these 
figures were strongly impressed on his mind, and 
now the curt announcement came to him, apparently 
on a slip of paper, that his famous jewel would 
only weigh one-half of Cope's estimate. 

He at once wrote off to Cope 2 : 

" 1705 (October 15) Fort St. George. Sir Stephen Evance 

and my son advised me that you would write me an account 

>f a concern of mine which has been under your direction and 

management for the cutting of it, but all the account I received 

1 Dropmore i. 12. * Dropmore i. 15. 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 283 

was a slip of paper, which very much surprises me. My son, 
by your direction, wrote to me in January 1703, when you had 
the stone in your hands about eight months, and, as I suppose, 
begun to work it, that it would make a clean stone, a brilliant 
of 280 carats and the pieces sawed off worth a great sum. Now 
you tell me it will be but 140 carats, and the pieces worth little 
that are sawed off. Certainly Mr. Cope's judgment cannot fairly 
vary so much, there being a window in the crown of the stone 
when (it) went hence, and the body very clear, when the skilful 
here could discover only two small flaws at one end. And then 
I cannot but make one remark more on the paper ; after the 
nine pieces sawed off, the stone is still to lose 102 J carats in 
working, before finished. This is hard, after it cost me a pro- 
digious sum, and that I have run so many eminent hazards, 
for me to meet with such usage. I flattered myself I was in 
good hands when in Mr. Cope's, but I am sure now I have better 
reason to alter my opinion, than Mr. Cope can have " (to alter 
his) " from 280 to 140. None can believe but that it was my 
interest to have preserved the magnitude of the stone, although 
there had been a flaw or two in it ; and as you told my son, 
280 would make it the wonder of the world, I am sure it will 
be so, your paring it to 140. I will be speedily with you and 
discourse more fully about the matter." 

It was fortunate perhaps for both men that 
this threat was not carried out. 

On the same date the Governor wrote to his 
son 1 : 

" 1705, October 12. Fort St. George. The disappointment 
in that grand Concerne has not a little disquieted mee, and }^ou 
nor Sir Stephen, nor any one of you as much as hinted what, in 
all probability, it would fetch ; which you know, could not out 
have been some satisfaction to mee ; and surely you must have 
had some discourse about it, and their opinion of it, which it 
seems must be kept a secret from mee. I charge you that you 
never permit the selling of it under 1500 a carat, and that all 
my business be managed with the greatest secresye and quiett 
immagenable and without ostentation. But I think it is too 
late to forbid that, since you have sett up to live at the rate 
I heare you doe, which has not created mee a little envye, and 
makes mee often remember Osborne, that children are certaine 
trouble but uncertaine comforts." 

1 Dropmore i. 16. 


This letter crossed one from his son dated the 
3rd of January 1706, in which he says 1 : 

" Your grand concern is now almost finished. It is a most 
glorious sight, but the outer coat was so foul, and the flaws 
went so deep in it, that it will not come net above 140 carats, 
which still, being not to be paralleled, is as inestimable as if 
it were much more. The reason why the pieces, although well 
spread, yielded no more was that they were very full of flaws ; 
Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Cope both think they have been sold for 
their full value. When finished the stone will be locked up 
pending your arrival or further order." 

Da Foncesca had sent a full and complete account 
to the Governor of the cutting and finishing of 
the stone, which seems to have removed the latter's 
suspicions and given him peace of mind, for in 
September 1706 he writes 2 : 

" Dear S r and good ffriend, 

I rec'd yours of the 24th of December and 8th of 
March per the Tankerville, in which I have a more particular 
account of that grand affair of mine than from my Sone or 
S r Stephen, and I assure you I think your favours to mee in 
that matter are as inestimable as the thing it Selfe ; and I shall 
be gready of an oppertunity to acknowledge it otherwise than 
by words, for with the account you give I'me intirely satisfied, 
tho' very much Chagrin'd last year, when I was writ that the 
magnitude would not be above halfe as much as was formerly 
writ, without giveing any reasons for it. If we are soe lucky as 
to put Charles on the throne of Spaine, I know nothing he can 
purchase to make his acknowledgments to our Queen soe accept- 
able as that matter. I will never part with it without I meet 
its value, and the least I can think of is fifteen hundred pounds 
a Carratt." 

In the following January his son Robert wrote 
again to him 3 : 

" I find you lay very much to heart the disappointment in 
the weight of your grand concern. Mr. Cope, when he first 
began to cut it, told me it would come out near 280 carats ; 
when more pieces were taken off, finding it fouler than he had 
expected, he told me 180 carats ; afterwards the sawing off of 
1 Dropmore i. 16. 2 Hedges 3. 129. 

3 Dropmore i. 25. 

The Pitt diamond (i) in the rough state, (2 and 3) in different 
stages of its cutting, and (4 and 5) as cut 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 285 

two more pieces reduced it to its present weight. The stone 
was entirely perfect in the middle, and of the best water in the 
world, but the flaws in the outside went so deep that it was 
necessary to saw off all those pieces, one of the last of which was 
so rotten that it crumbled into dirt. We never visited Mr. Cope 
but all together ; and it was the opinion of Mr. Alvarez and all 
that it was better to make a pure stone of a less weight than to 
keep it greater and have it foul ; for the reason that its being 
at once the largest stone in the world and without flaw, makes 
it more valuable. I cannot imagine that you were in any ways 
cheated, for there was never a piece sawed off that I did not 
myself put on the place whence it was taken, and see if it exactly 
fitted. Mr. Alvarez was the chief manager in the sale of the 
pieces, and he protested that he would not have given so much 
for them, and that, had they been his own, he would have sold 
them for the same money. It has been finished ever since 
March last, and locked up in an iron chest which stands in Sir 
Stephen's back shop ; he keeps the key of the padlock, and 
I keep two keys which unlock the chest. I hear frequent advices 
have been given of it from Fort St. George, but am sure that 
by me it was never divulged. I have been asked about it by 
a hundred people, and all the answer I ever made was that I 
wished it were true, or that they could make their words good. 
The spread of it is not at all diminished ; it is a perfect star 
to look at, and has no other significant defect than that of 
a chapman to buy it." 

There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of this 
circumstantial account of the cutting of the stone, 
the reasons for the great diminution in its weight 
and the disposal of the pieces sawn off it. The 
statements in it were corroborated by a joint letter 
to the same effect from Robert Pitt, Sir Stephen 
Evans and Mr John Dolben, who had recently 
come home from Fort St George, and was now acting 
for the Governor in this and other matters. In 
reply to it Governor Pitt wrote to the three on the 
i6th of September ijoj 1 : " Your letter of January 20, 
satisfies me entirely as to my grand concern, and 
your disposing of the pieces cut off it." On the I2th 
of the same month he had written to Da Foncesca 2 : 

1 Dropmore i. 31. 2 Hedges 3. 131. 


" I shall say no more as to the great concerne but that I am 
entirely satisfy'd and I confirme what I formerly wrote my 
Attorney that I will not part with it under 1500 a Carrat, 
which Tarn sure is as cheap as Neck beef, and let any Potentate 
buy it, the next day 'tis worth a Million of pounds sterling. 
I could wish it may be contriv'd soe that it may be bought 
by the Crown of England for the honour of me and my pos- 
terity ; and if wee have been successful this last Campaigne as 
before,' I doubt not there will be money enough to buy it, and the 
parliament have a heart great and gratefull enough to present 
it to her Majesty. I am alsoe Satisfy'd as to the peices that 
are cutt off, and I hope when Mr. Dolben is arriv'd, Mr. Cope 

will hearken to reason as to the polishing of it In the midst 

of my trouble and concerne that I was in for my great affair, 
I allways comforted my Selfe with the assurance that you would 
take care of it, and I agree with you entirely as to the Judgment 
of Abendana in the pieces cutt off, and I had the same thought 
when he represented it to me to be worth 16,000, without being 
assur'd the goodness in any Respect, 'tis like the valuation of 
that at 5000 which was not worth one." 

Had he been furnished earlier with the explana- 
tions now given to him, he would have been spared 
many an hour of anxiety and suspicion. As a 
matter of fact the proportion of the weight of the 
stone which was lost in its cutting was not much 
larger than that lost in the cutting of the Great 
Mogul, which according to Ta vernier weighed 793 
carats in its rough state and 279 when cut and 

For the present the Governor's fears with regard 
to his grand concern centred mainly in the precautions 
taken for securing its safety. He evidently did 
not relish the notion of its being kept in the jeweller's 
back shop ; and he seems to have entertained some 
suspicions that Evans might be tempted to make 
away with it. Writing to Dolben on the 5th of 
February 1707, he says : 

" Did I not think it uncertain whether this will come to 
you, I should write you more than I doe, but I must not omitt 
one thing, which is that there are some that is come upon these 

xvi] IN ENGLAND 287 

last Years Ships that have thrown a Slurr upon S r Ste's Credit, 
such as was formerly when I came, in which I hope there is 
more malice than truth as was then, for God sake be carefull, 
for you know my all is at stake in his hands, and if you dispose 
not of the Grand affair, I believe 'twill be securest in an Iron 
Chest at the Bank, each of you a different key, or if you think 
that not the securest place, pray agree upon some other amongst 
your Selves 1 ." 

Two days later he wrote to his son about Evans 
in the same strain 2 : 

" On my arrival here I found that some persons had thrown 
aspersions on him, as to his circumstances, which I wiped off ; 
and this last shipping some have done the same, which I take 
to be malicious, or else you live very ignorant of matters, 
or come seldom to that end of the town to inform yourself. 
I cannot forget Adams, the scrivener, whose failing was as great 
a surprise as has been known ; and what has been may be. 
Therefore I would have you consider with Mr. Dolben for the 
securest place to lodge that great concern, each with a key 
different from the other." 

His fears of the danger of leaving the stone 
in the custody of Evans must have been aggravated 
rather than relieved by a letter, which he got the 
next year from his old friend Captain Harrison, 
in which the following passage occurs 3 : " I can 
say little to your grand aff air ... only that in my 
opinion your presence will be very necessary to 
the disposall of it. Sir Stephen muddles on at 
the old rate, some get, some loose ; but goes to 
bed mellow most an end/' 

As will be seen, the Governor's doubts as to the 
financial stability of Evans were subsequently justi- 
fied by the bankruptcy of Sir Stephen. 

1 Hedges 3. 130. 2 Dropmore i. 26. 

* Dropmore i. 30. 



GOVERNOR PITT'S anxieties concerning the fate 
of his great diamond were by no means the only ones 
that troubled him during the years that followed 
the union of the two Companies. His position at 
Fort St George had been seriously compromised by 
the uncertainty which he thenceforth felt of receiving 
the cordial support of some half of the directors of 
the United Company. Till now he had possessed 
the entire confidence of his employers, and had been 
allowed a freer hand than any of his predecessors with 
the happiest possible results. Thus far he seems to 
have had no difficulties to contend with in dealing with 
his subordinates. Fraser, who had made himself so 
intolerable to Governors Yale and Higginson, had 
been away in command of Fort St David, where he 
had had few opportunities of undermining his chief's 
influence at Fort St George, or misrepresenting his 
actions to members of the Court at home. This 
happy condition of affairs was now rudely disturbed 
by the disquieting news which for some time to come 
nearly every ship brought from London. In the 
earliest letter which the Governor had received as to 
the amalgamation of the two Companies, his friend 
Sir Stephen Evans had told him 1 : " Mr. Richard 
Gough with some of the New Company s men have a 
notion of sending out a Generall Supervisor over all 

1 Hedges 3. 76. 


India, and the man desired, as I find, is Mr. Roger 
Braddyll who they have lately perswaded to buy some 
new East India Stock. This is Kept very private 
with them, but I am in with both sides, soe they doe 
nothing but I presently hear of itt. Mr. Gough and 
Mr. Braddyll have whispered about that you have 
sent 60,000 Pa: of the Companys money to China in 
the Hampshire on your own account, which is whis- 
pered about to doe You a prejudice. I spoke to 
Mr. Gough about itt. He said he heard itt. I 
desir'd to know who told him but he would not tell 
mee. I am satisfied there is noe such thing, but 
take it to be in order to promote Mr. Braddyll's 

BraddylFs record was by no means a good one 1 * 
He had entered the service of the Old Company in 
1682 as a factor. In 1686, when the disastrous war 
between the Company and the Mogul was declared, 
he was at Patna and was imprisoned by the Nawab, 
He succeeded in making his escape by the assistance 
of an English sergeant, whom he persuaded to imper- 
sonate him and to remain behind in gaol in his place. 
This poor man, who might apparently have been 
readily ransomed if the money had been forthcoming, 
was allowed to remain in captivity for more than 
seven years, when his release, which Braddyll seems 
to have taken no steps to procure, was obtained on 
payment of 800 rupees collected for the purpose " by 
the charity of severall good minded persons who 
made a gathering for him " in commiseration of his 
piteous fate. In the meanwhile he had sent repeated 
appeals to his fellow countrymen in Bengal. In one 
of these he writes : " If I have not money to give the 
Cuttwall and the Keepers of the Prison and the Guards 
that guard mee, they abuse mee most grossly. If 
you doe not take some care to relieve me with speed 

1 Hedges 2. 107* .... . 
D. 19 


I shall be forc'd to turne Moore, for I am not able to 
endure the Hardship much longer/' " For the lord 
Jesus Christ's Sake let mee not perish in this hellish 

In the meanwhile Braddyll seems to have remained 
in Bengal and to have done pretty well for himself, 
though very badly for the Company 1 , who in 1696 
entertained " more than a suspition of him/' and 
found by their accounts that he " was exceedingly 
in their debt." They therefore " ordered him to be 
sent up at once to Fort St George, and to be no further 
concerned in any service for them in Bengal " ; and 
they directed their Council of the Bay " to secure the 
debt he owed them by any effects of his, or otherwise 
in any way they could." Coming to the Fort, he 
married the widow of Sir John Goldsborough and was 
taken on to the Council there by Higginson who soon 
found it necessary to suspend him. His suspension 
had been removed by Pitt on the advice of Fraser, 
then at Fort St David, to whom the Governor wrote 
in November 1699 2 : " You know 'twas by your 
advice that I tooke Mr. Braddyll into Councill, who 
proves the most troublesome man beyond expression, 
and puzzles the Merchants in such a manner with 
his Conundrums that he has made them halfe mad." 
About the same time the Court at home were writing 
out to Fort St George : " When we sent out the 
Commission by our new President we put in all the 
names of our then Councill, not knowing of any 
particular objection against them further then men- 
tioned in our Instructions, however left it to his 
discretion to suspend any persons he found deserving 
it ; but we find so much in the Consultations relating 
to Mr. Braddyll that Strikes at the foundations of 
our Authority, as deserves a Severe Reflexion, and 
therefore leave it to you to act thereon as you shall 

1 Hedges 2. 296. 2 Hedges 2. 108. 


see expedient, by a temporary or totall Suspension, or 
otherwise, to deter others from the like evill practise." 

In pursuance of these instructions Braddyll had 
been sent home to England in 1701, as appears from 
a letter from Pitt to Sir Thomas Cook, dated the 
i8th of October in that year, which contains the 
following passage : " The man that chiefly disturbed 
your affairs here, as also wherever he came, did as 
you suppose returne upon the last shipping, full 
freighted with Mallice and inventions of his own ; 
but I doubt not that notwithstanding he thinks 
himself one of the cunningest men in the world, 
you'll soon find him out." 

It was within ten months after the despatch of 
this letter that Evans sent to the Governor the 
astounding news that his enemies on the Court were 
scheming to send Braddyll out as General Supervisor 
of the United Company's affairs over the whole of 
India, and that he was disseminating the atrocious 
libel that the Governor had employed 60,000 pagodas 
belonging to the Old Company for the purposes of 
his own private trade. The Old Company's directors 
must have known the two men too well to attach 
any credence to this malicious allegation. They 
knew how much they had lost by Braddyll's dis- 
honesty and incompetence and how much they had 
gained by the Governor's integrity and ability. 
The Governor's reply to Evans is dated the yth of 
January ijo^ 1 . '' Tis a matter of ridicule with us," 
he says, "that they talk of Roger Braddyll as a 
supervisor, for I beleive few or none in India will 
regard him ; for my part I will not. If Mr. Gough 
and Mr. Braddyll have had the Impudence to report 
that of my sending 60,000 pagodas of the Companys 
money to China, or as much as one fanam, I hope if 
my Son hears 'em he will tell 'em they lye, and 

1 Hedges 3. 85. 

19 2 


I won't faile to confirme it whenever I see 'em, and 
'tis a true signe of Braddyll's worth when his interest 
must be promoted by such a villainous mean." The 
day before writing this letter he had written to 
Captain Harrison, who had evidently sent him an 
account of other statements which Braddyll was 
spreading to his discredit: " Tis easy to guess what 
Roger means by proclaiming my Riches, and what 
must be the naturall question thereon from those that 
are my enemies, ' where a plague did he get it ? ' 
and then comes a nod and a Shrugg, and some dog- 
like reflection or other, for which it may chance he 
may be accountable sooner than he is aware of. 
Wee all know him, and shall take care to value him 

The Governor may not have been much disturbed 
by these reports about Braddyll. But there can be 
no doubt that he bitterly resented the action taken 
at this time by the Court of the United Company with 
reference to another of his subordinates, a friend and 
colleague of Braddyll, Mr William Fraser, who had 
now been made a member of the Council at Fort St 
George, and had come from Fort St David to take up 
his new appointment, thus bringing himself into 
daily personal relations with his chief. The earliest 
references to this unfortunate appointment that 
occur in the Governor's correspondence are to be 
found in the letters which he wrote home to England 
to several of his friends in January 1704 simultane- 
ously with those sent to Evans and Harrison, relating 
to Braddyll. Writing to William Hewer, the faithful 
servant and lifelong friend of Samuel Pepys, he says 
with reference to the United Company 1 : 

" I find that they are leaning to a Commonwealth Government 
throughout their Settlements, which I beleive will noe way Suite 
the Companys Interest where our trade and disputes are with 

1 Hedges 3. 83. 


such absolute Monarchs ; for my part I never desir'd power for 
any other Reason than to maker me more Capable to Serve my 
employers, for I am sure I never made use of it but for their 
advantage, for unless there be a power lodg'd in Some Single 
person, 'twill be here as it was formerly, their time spent wholy 
in jangling and quarrelling, to the endangering the ruine of the 
place." " I am sorry to hear that some of 'em in their debates 
should urge the necessity of having Spyes and Checks in their 
Councills abroad, and bring in such as are branded with infamy 
to such a degree that noe body could have Sat with 'em, and others 
who are Soe impertinent and troublesome, besides soe insipid, 
that they were never capable by their advice or otherwise ol 
making any advantage to their Masters or themselves but have 
rather been the Occasion of the loss of vast Sums, and this must 
be Said and for a truth too, that where the East India Company 
have Suffer'd here abroad by Knavery in their Servants 1000, 
they Suffer'd at least 10,000 by employing of ffools ; and how 
can it be expected that any by their advice or otherwise, shall 
contribute towards getting an estate for their Employers, when 
they think themselves incapable of managing what little they 
have of their own, by leaving it to others. 

You are a good judge and have the right sentiment of this 
matter, but I know from whome this project comes, who made 
Confusion wherever he resided and Sacrific'd the Companys 
Interest airways to his own, and as I hear wants now to come 
out on a post to disturb your whole affairs that he may make 
the advantage of fishing in troubled waters. 

I esteem you my ftriend and therefore have imparted my 
mind freely to you." 

Of the three men referred to in this letter, the 
last, who is described as the author of the project 
to put " Spyes and Checks " upon the Governor, was 
evidently Braddyll. Of the other two, one was 
Fraser and the other Charles Dubois, a man of 
blemished reputation, the brother of the highly 
respectable Secretary of the Company. Dubois had 
apparently been nominated to act as one of the 
Madras Council, but died before he took up the office. 

Writing at the same time to his friends John 
Styleman and Robert Raworth at the India Office, 
the Governor says to the former 1 : " They have putt 

1 Hedges 3 84, 85. 


Mr. Frazier and Mr. Du Bois into the Council here, as 
able Spyes and Checks, and His said next year being 
thoroughly informed of the ability of the one and the 
integrity of the other, they intend to make 'em both 
equall in power with the Governor" ; and to the latter: 
" Tis generally reported that 'twas urged there was 
a necessity of adding two to the Councill, for Spyes 
and Checks upon the President, one of which " 
(Fraser) "that has neither a Graine of Sense nor 
Manners, nor ever any way contributed to getting 
a penny for his employers, but by his incontroulable 
nonsensicall obstinacy has lost 'em many a thousand 
pounds, and for the other " (Dubois) " I shall say 
noe more of, for the respect I bear his brother, tho' 
I must say this that he had not a dram of Integrity, 
and had he been living I could never have conde- 
scended to have sat with him in Councill, for it would 
have made your Government Scandalous and In- 
famous, and neither white nor black would have 
regarded it." 

Some months later he writes in the same strain 
to Sir William Langhorne 1 : 

" I should have own'd my Selfe very much obliged to the 
Managers who write that they unanimously chuse me in their 
Service, th6 private letters say that I was ellected by balletting, 
and carry'd it but by one from Mr. John Pitt, which has been 
industriously spread here and in Bengali, and doubtless all 
other parts of India. But I cannot but resent the blemish they 
put upon me, when they came to fill up the Council here, first 
in putting in Mr. Ffrazier, and secondly the reasons they gave 
for it, which I hear our old Masters oppos'd, who represented 
his temper and deportment intolerable, and his ignorance in all 
affairs unspeakable, soe that he could not be in any way service- 
able to them, all which 'tis writ the New Companys people 
confess'd, but still insisted on his being one of the Councill, 
for that he would be a good Spye. 

What must become of that Government, when such as 
Ffrazier are in the Councill, who runs about boasting of a letter 
he has received from the New Company, promising him great 
1 Hedges 3. 95. 


matters, and inculcating after his foolish method into the people 
that the power now of this place is in the Councill, and the 
Governor nothing, of which I have convinc'd some of his under 
spyes with a chawbuck, and doe and will bear him accordingly, 
for whilst I am here Tie govern according to the power given 
me in the Commision I brought out, which is never yet super- 

Tis said here too which I have reason to Creditt, that the 
vile good for nothing wretch, with some others, have underhand 
perswaded the merchants, who have been in prison soe long, not 
to pay their debt to the Old Company, for that a new Governour 
would come out, and then they might get clear of it for little 
or nothing." 

It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the 
Governor had been rightly informed by his friends 
at home that it was the representatives of the New 
Company on the Court at home who had insisted on 
the appointment of Fraser on the Council of Fort 
St George ; and that they had taken him up at the 
instigation of Braddyll. Both Braddyll and Fraser 
were servants of the Old Company ; and consequently 
in their case the New Company's men could have 
had no reason to promote their interests out of regard 
for past services. Their only bond of union was their 
common animosity to Pitt, whom they sought to 
annoy by trying to lessen his authority. The majority 
of the directors of the United Company must have 
been well aware of the very serious risks which they 
would run, if they attempted to set up a Rotation 
Government at Fort St George on similar lines to 
those on which they had established their Council in 
Bengal. They cannot have failed to recognise the 
ridiculous and perilous position in which their settle- 
ments in Madras would have been placed under such 
a form of government, in the event of Daud Khan or 
any other general of the Mogul returning to blockade 
the fort, or of it becoming necessary to enter into 
negotiations with the Mogul. They had recently 
seen the disastrous consequences which had followed 


divided counsels and opposing interests in the conduct 
of the embassy of Sir William Norris, and the conspic- 
uous successes alike in action and in diplomacy which 
Governor Pitt had achieved, so long as he had been 
allowed a free hand, and which had raised his repu- 
tation far higher than that of any other Englishman 
of his day and generation in India. The minority of 
the Court who desired at this time to supersede him 
or to induce him to resign, pr to belittle his authority, 
may have been comparatively small. But small 
though it was, its enmity was implacable, and for 
the next few years it never seems to have lost a 
chance of irritating or defaming him. In both 
respects they succeeded only too well. In his corre- 
spondence he can never control himself when writing 
of Eraser, who very shortly afterwards, by the death 
of Mr Ellis, the senior member of his Council, became 
next in authority to himself in Madras. Writing to 
his friend Styleman in December 1704, Pitt says 1 : 
' You must have heard by last ship the death of 
Mr. John Pitt and Mr. Ellis, Soe Frasier is here a 
second, who is likewise the ridicule and Buffoon of 
the Town, and if it were not for Mr. Hunt wee should 
have had noe books, who he has almost made mad 
with his impertinences/' It was probably the death 
of Ellis that caused him to alter his resolution of 
coming home to look after his diamond and his 
family. For he could not bear to leave the enemy 
he loathed and despised to take his place as Governor. 
The death of Ellis must have also stimulated the 
longing of Fraser to become Governor of Fort St 
George, and encouraged him to spare no efforts to 
make his chief's position an intolerable one. It is 
not unlikely that it was at his or Braddyll's instiga- 
tion that the many little petty slights of which the 
Governor complains in his correspondence originated, 

1 Hedges 3. 94. 


one of which was the making him pay freight for the 
wine sent out to him 1 . 

In the meanwhile Pitt had given the Court 
admirable advice impressing on them the importance 
of strengthening their garrisons in the Carnatic 2 . 
Of the sixteen soldiers who had arrived from England 
that season, twelve were already dead, and it was 
obvious that unless stronger reinforcements were sent 
out, the small force at his command would be hope- 
lessly depleted. He had also pressed for a further 
supply of military stores, and particularly mortars, 
as the throwing of shells amongst the native troops 
during the late blockade had produced the greatest 
terror amongst the besiegers. As a further measure 
of precaution, he requested permission to raise a 
troop of sixty horse to act as convoys and to repel 
incursions of the native cavalry. At the same time he 
informed the Court that his Council had found it 
necessary to apply to the Company's agent at Ben- 
coolen to send him fifty Baggasses or Javanese soldiers 
with their officers to serve the Company for five years. 
As a justification of these very moderate proposals 
he had pointed out that the French garrison of the 
rapidly growing settlement of Pondicherry alone was 
already more numerous than the whole of the troops 
which he had at the Company's two forts, St George 
and St David. Even at this early date he noted with 
apprehension the rising power of the French in the 
Carnatic, and warned the Court that in the event 
of war with France it would constitute in the future 
a standing menace to the Company's stations there. 
Had his warning not fallen on unheeding ears, the 
English in Madras would have entered on the struggle 
with the French for supremacy in India in the days 
of his famous grandson under far more favourable 

1 Hedges 3. 97. . ,::,<c> * Bruce 3. 504. 


conditions than they were fated to do. Whilst thus 
impressing on the Court at home the necessity of 
sending out to him adequate troops and military 
stores, he himself persistently continued the strength- 
ening of the fortifications of Black Town 1 . By the 
end of 1707 he had encircled it with a permanent 
brick-faced wall stated by Salmon to have been 
" seventeen feet thick with bastions at proper 
distances after the modern way of fortifications /" 
This very important addition to the defences of the 
settlement, commenced, as already mentioned, in 1700 
in anticipation of Daud Khan's blockade, was paved 
on the top so that cannon might be mounted on it. 
It is shown plainly on the survey of Fort St George 
made by his orders during his Governorship. On 
its completion Salmon says : " Madras considering 
where it stands might now be reckoned a town of 
strength, if the garrison was answerable to the 
fortifications/' Pitt seems to have been more for- 
tunate than his predecessors in recovering the cost 
of its erection from the inhabitants of the town. 
Nor did he fail to take measures of precaution for 
the victualling of his settlement in the event of 
another blockade. The river Coum, which ran at 
the back of the fort, inclosed an island that had 
hitherto been left uncultivated 2 . This he improved 
by hedging it round, and ditching it, so as to make it 
of service for the pasturage of cattle, which he fore- 
saw would be of great use to the garrison, more 
especially in times of trouble. It would appear also 
from the survey above referred to that he planted 
on the island some groves, a garden, and a double 
avenue called the Great Walk, which must have 
added considerably to the amenities of the settle- 
ment. A powder house is also shown on the island 

1 Vestiges of Old Madras, 2. 41. * Wheeler 2. 41 


of which Lockyer says : "Most of the Powder expended 
in the Garrison is made on the Island, about a Gun- 
shot from the Town. It has not the force of what 
comes from England ; for no other reason than 
not well incorporating the ingredients. They have 
the finest Saltpetre and Brimstone, with good 
Charcole, which ought to make the best Powder ; 
but for want of skilful Managers and good Contri- 
vances, these excellencies are of no effect V 

The native officials were still disposed to regard 
the English community at Madras as remaining 
there on sufferance only. About this time the 
Foujdar of St Thome had imprisoned an Armenian 
inhabitant of Fort St George, and irritated apparently 
by some expression in one of the Governor's letters, 
ventured to write to him in the following terms 2 : 

" From Marusman, Foujdar of St. Thome. 

I have power over Chinnapatam " (i.e. Fort St George) 
" and likewise over St. Thome, as it belongs to the King, whose 
grant of Chinnapatam ground to the Company was on no other 
intent than to make the place fruitful, and bring riches into his king- 
dom, but not to act anything that should be unjust or prejudicial 
to the Merchants interest there. I can not help putting you 
in mind of the Governors of Golconda and Bijapore, who for 
their unjust actions and ill behaviour were instantly turned out 
of their Province notwithstanding all their resistance and clapped 
into irons. What reason therefore has the King to value any 
one, seeing that he turns out whoever he pleases, and who by his 
great kindness and justice towards his people has obtained 
power of God to conquer wheresoever he conies, and knowing 
me to be one of his Officers, I wonder at the style you write me. 
What can I say more ? " 

The Governor's reply to this insulting missive 
was in a very different tone from that which he was 
in the habit of employing when writing to the higher- 
officials of the Mogul. Whilst characteristically 
returning insult for insult, and magnifying the 
authority of his own sovereign, he was careful to 

1 Lockyer, p. 25. 2 Wheeler 2. 34. 


speak in respectful terms of the Foujdar's superiors. 
He wrote back at once as follows : 

" To Marusman, Foujdar of St. Thome. 

I received your impertinent and insolent letter. We all 
know your King to be great, wise and just, and many of his 
nobles to be persons of great honour ; but most of his little 
Governors, amongst whom I reckon you, to be very corrupt and 
unjust. We would have you to know that we are of a nation, 
whose sovereign is great and powerful, able to protect his sub- 
jects in their just rights over all the world, and revenge whatever 
injustices shall be done to them, of which there will be speedy 
instances given. I am not a little surprised at your saucy 
expressions, as well as actions in imprisoning my inhabitants, 
when you know that I can fetch you hither and correct you for 
both. This is an answer to your letter. Thomas Pitt." 

As was to be expected, Marusman appealed to 
Daud Khan to support him. But Daud was away 
from his province and at the Court of the Mogul. 
In view of his recent costly and abortive attempt to 
reduce Fort St George by blockade, it is unlikely 
that he would have had any inclination to try con- 
clusions again with Governor Pitt, if he had been 
at hand. On his return to Arcot, the Governor 
sent him a complimentary present of a hundred 
bottles of liquors. This welcome gift seems to have 
been appreciated by him ; for he remained quiet 
for the next six months 1 , at the end of which time he 
came to St Thome with a small force of between 
five and six hundred horse and foot, and expressed 
an earnest desire to dine again with the Governor. 
Two members of the Council and the Secretary, 
who were sent to pay their respects to him, met with 
an extraordinarily kind reception. He presented 
each of them with an emerald ring worth about 
thirty or forty pagodas, and gave them a jewel 
valued at a hundred or a hundred and fifty pagodas, 
for the Governor ; at the same time reiterating his 

* Wheeler 2. 45. 


request to be invited to dinner. In response to this 
intimation an immediate invitation was sent him, 
coupled with the condition that he would not bring 
with him more than twenty of his guards. This 
condition he undertook to comply with, and the 
necessary preparations for the dinner were made. 
At the appointed time he turned up at the Company's 
Garden with two hundred of his men ; and on being 
informed by Narrain, the Brahmin in the pay of the 
Company, that the Governor would not admit so 
many within the fort, sent word that if he could not 
be received with the whole of the men he had brought 
"it would be the same thing for him if the dinner 
were sent to him at the Garden." As the Governor 
positively refused to allow him to bring more than 
twenty of his men into the fort, the dinner and all 
other necessaries were sent to him at the Garden, 
" whither/' to quote from the Consultation Book, 
" the Secretary and Narrain returned, who were 
to acquaint the other Gentlemen with the Governor's 
resolution ; and that the Guns he intended to fire were 
for the King's health, his own and such of the Great 
ministers of State as were his friends. About five 
in the evening the English gentlemen returned from 
the Garden, and gave the following account. That 
the Nabob at first seemed out of humour at the answer 
that was sent him, when it was believed that he would 
not dine there ; but after some pausing, he dissembled 
his resentment and sat down to dinner, and ate 
heartily, and tasted the liquors sent him, which he 
liked very well. After dinner the present was set 
before him which at first he seemingly refused, but 
afterwards accepted of it ; and soon after rose up 
and returned to St Thome." 

It would seem from this entry in the Consultation 
Book that Baud, though anxious to see the interior 
of the fort again, presumably with the intention of 


ascertaining the strength of its defences, was unwilling 
to trust himself in the Governor's hands without a 
sufficient escort ; and that the Governor, on his part 
on guard against a surprise, was by no means disposed 
to give facilities for this inspection, and thought it 
well to remind Daud in the course of his repast, by 
repeated salvoes of artillery ostensibly fired in his 
honour and that of the Mogul, of the sort of reception 
that awaited any enemy who might attempt, as 
Daud on one occasion had threatened to do, " to fall 
in upon the garrison by force of arms and make it 
surrender." Be this as it may, both parties appear 
to have parted on friendly terms from one another ; 
and however much Daud may have enjoyed his dinner, 
it seems to have been the last one that he got from 
Governor Pitt. 

The winding up of the separate affairs of the Old 
and New Companies in India was a tedious and 
troublesome business ; but that so much of it as 
fell to the Governor's share was performed to the 
full satisfaction of the Court of the Old Company is 
clear from the following letter, which they sent to 
him, when it was approaching its completion : 

' We assure you," they say, " that we have a 
particular relyance on yourself, to see the whole 
compleated. We are sensible your active genius and 
hearty espousing our Interest has been the main 
Spring, that has set all the other wheels in motion, 
and as we have experimentally found the benefitt 
which has accrued to us by your being at the head 
of our Affairs on the Coast in many instances from 
your first arrivall at Madrass during the whole 
Struggle and Competition with the New Company 
and their servants, Soe we own to you that we 
perceive the same Zeal inspires you hitherto in look- 
ing after our Separate Affairs, and doubt not but it 
* run through the whole of your Management till 


all our pending affairs are perfectly adjusted and the 
last penny of our Separate Estate is remitted to 
England 1 ." 

At the same time Dubois, the Secretary of the 
Company, wrote to him : ' You will see by the Com- 
panys letter their sense of your Service to them, 
especially in the affair of the joint stock merchants, 
whose debt you have so well secured. This has 
stopped the mouths of every body on that head." 
" I hope you will think fit to remain in your Govern- 
ment some time longer. Since you have made so 
great a progress in settling matters, you ought to 
have the glory of finishing 2 ." 

So satisfied indeed were the representatives of 
both Companies with the manner in which he had 
done this branch of his work, that he was given con- 
trol over the separate interests of the Old Company 
in Bengal, as well as in Madras 3 , while the directors 
of the New Company applied to him as being the 
only person who could rescue their interests on the 
Coromandel Coast from the embarrassments in which 
they had been left by his cousin Consul John Pitt. 
Had he foreseen the treatment that awaited him at 
their hands, he might have thought twice before 
undertaking the very onerous and unpleasant busi- 
ness which he was thus solicited by his old enemies 
to undertake on their behalf. 

1 Hedges 3. 102. * Dropmore i. 20. 

3 Bruce 3. 587. 



THE winding up of the affairs of the New Company 
in Madras, when taken in hand by Governor Pitt,, 
was to all intents and purposes little more than a 
composition with its creditors of the debts of a 
derelict undertaking possessed of no visible or avail- 
able assets. The Company had started in business 
with so small a working capital, that the failure of 
its proprietors had been inevitable from the first. 
A substantial proportion of its scanty funds had been 
absorbed by the expenses of the costly embassy to 
the Mogul. A still larger amount had gone to the 
bottom of the sea in the wreck of the JN 'orris. In 
anticipation of the safe arrival of that unfortunate 
ship, the Company's servants at Masulipatam had 
incurred serious liabilities in their dealings with the 
native merchants, with whom they had entered into 
extravagant contracts for the supply of Eastern 
goods shipped to England. When it became evident 
that they were unable to meet these liabilities by 
any other means than further promises to pay, the 
position of their President, Mr William Tillard, who 
had succeeded their late Consul John Pitt, became 
so intolerable that he and his staff were compelled 
to flit by night from their factory, in order to take 
refuge at Fort St George from their exasperated 
creditors. Without waiting for the arrival of a ship 


to convey them thither, they had evacuated their 
quarters and made what seems to have been a 
troublesome and somewhat perilous journey over- 
land, the details of which are thus recorded in Tillard's 
Diary : 

' Ye 25th Sept in ye evening sett out frm Metchl m in order 
to go to Fort St. George overland, being necessitated thereto 
by ye impetuous clamours of ye Merchts. for ye money owing 
them by ye Comp a . 

Ye 26th Sept. we arrived at Trimaneer fort abt. 10 in ye 
morns & ab*. an hour after at Nerracoedre & the next day we 
began to pass the river w ch we were 3 days in doing having but 
3 sangarees, and ye river very broad & ye freshes coming down. 
When we were over I sent to Tripatee for a boat to pass over ye 
other river about an hour's journey from us, but he put us off 
from time [to] time, so that we found he designed us a trick. 
But his enemy lying on ye other side of s d river, whom he was 
afraid of, he lent us a country boat to repass ye river we came 
over, which we did October i, and having endeavoured allways 
to gitt forw d on our journey & all in vain because of ye partys 
of robbers that lay on ye road, I writt ye 4th d to to Metchl m for 
ye Comp a Country B 1 w ch we mett att Baherlanca ye 7th d to , and 
ye same day went down ye river in her as far as Chippaleer, 
design 8 for Pettepolle, but hears from ye country people of that 
place that Pettepolle was also in trouble thro fear of ye robbers, 
we resolved to go over ye Barr of ye river, and so to go to 
Dauramparr by sea. Accordingly we sailed fr m Chippaleer ye 
8th, and gott over ye Barr to ye Southward of Pettepolle point, 
& next morns came before Dauramparr, but having a fair wind 
and fine weather we resolved to go as far as Kisnapatam river 
where we arrived safe ye 10. We run a great hasard it is true 
in going in an open boat at this time of ye year, & so many 
people in her, viz. 3 English beside myself, & between 100 and 
no blacks and with us we had a great deal of lumber amongst 
wh ch were 3 Pallankins beside Doolys. But we were forced to 
do as we did, else must have returned back to Metchlep m . 

Ye nth Oct in ye morns we went fr m ye s d river overland 
to Duhraspatam, where we arrived in ye evens. The I2th in ye 
morns we left Duhraspatam and arrived at Pollicat ye next day 
and came to Ulw ra . 

Ye I4th we arrived at Trigature (Tiruchendar) , about an 
hour and an halfs journey to ye northw d of Fort St. George. 
About 2 in ye after noon we went fro thence to Narraiads 
garden, where we arrived an hour afterwards, where we mett 



w th Mr. Wright and Mr. Raworth, 2 of ye Council of Fort St. 
George. We slept ab* 2 hours at ye garden and arrived at ye Gov 8 
garden abt 5 in ye even*, the Gov r made us very welcome 1 ." 

This ignominious throwing up of the sponge by 
his late rivals in trade cannot have taken the Governor 
by surprise. Four years before, when his cousin 
the Consul had started as his competitor at Masuli- 
patam, he had written : " Mind your trade, which 
is your Masters business, and when the Moors have 
bang'd you and Stript you of what you have, upon 
your Submission and begging pardon for what you 
have done, I may Chance to protect you here. I 
can't but laugh at your promising us protection when 
you have neither forces, power nor Interest in the 
Countrey. When ours are assigned you, you may talk 
at that rate 2 ." More recently he had written home : 
" Tis not my busyness to Censure the management 
of my kinsman, who was very great and wise in his 
own thoughts, but this Fie write you, that there are 
no Generall books kept, noe consultations, and I 
believe your Company indebted at Metchlepatam 
a farr greater sum than they think of 3 /' Now the 
game was played out ; and the day of reckoning 
had come. The servants of the New Company 
on their own initiative had fled for refuge to Fort 
St George to sue for protection. Close upon their 
heels followed their indignant creditors, clamouring 
for payment of their debts and complaining bitterly 
that they had been defrauded. Such was the position 
that confronted the Governor when called upon by 
the directors of the New Company to make the best 
settlement he could on their behalf. 

A more thankless and embarrassing task it would 
have been difficult for his enemies to have imposed 
on him. One thing only could satisfy the merchants, 

1 i5th Report of the H.M.S. Comn. Appendix x. p. 90. 

2 Hedges 3. 48. 3 Hedges 3. 86. 


and abate the scandal thrown on the credit of the 
English trade in the East by the transactions of 
his compatriots and kinsman at Masulipatam : and 
that was the prompt payment of a substantial portion 
of the New Company's debts in cash, or with some- 
thing that could readily be converted into cash. 
The Governor had no authority to apply any part 
of the Old Company's funds for this purpose, or to 
pledge their credit for the benefit of the proprietors 
of the New Company. After the experiences they 
had undergone, the merchants would certainly not 
be contented with bills drawn by Tillard on his 
employers, unless some substantial persons at Fort 
St George were willing to give gold or silver in exchange 
for them. Nor were any of the other merchants at 
the fort likely to buy the bills unless the Governor 
would set the example by sacrificing a considerable 
part of his own private capital or that of his friends 
in their purchase. It must have been with great 
reluctance that he decided to encroach on his cherished 
and productive store of precious metal for the sake 
of relieving the embarrassments of men, the majority 
of whom, though now his masters, were, as he knew, 
desirous of any pretext to find fault with him. But 
the English credit, which had hitherto stood high in 
the Eastern trade, was at stake ; and he must have 
felt that it was his duty to maintain it at any reason- 
able cost, and that if he failed to do so he would be 
bitterly blamed at home. On the other hand, if it 
were known to the proprietors of the New Company 
that he was the chief person concerned in the pur- 
chase of the bills, he had every reason to fear that 
the New Company men would without the slightest 
hesitation or remorse throw him over and repudiate 
the transaction. That he had grave misgivings from 
the first that they would do so is manifest from the 
letters which he sent home to Evans and his son with 

20 2 


the bills in the same ship, the Duchess, that took 
Tillard and the New Company's accounts to England 
in the following spring. In one of these letters he 
says : 

" ffeby. the 5th. 1704-5. 

I have sent you Some effects on these Ships, and principally 
in bills of exchange on the New Company, which I hope they 
will honourably comply with, in regard that the loan of the 
money here has very much contributed to their honour as well 
as interest, for that they were indebted very considerably at 
Metchlepatam whose Merchants followed their President hither, 
and have been very clamorous and troublesome till wee rais'd 
money to pay off good part thereof, which was rais'd by a great 
many people of this place, I am concern'd myself e thirty nine 
thousand pagodas, but have sent a bill in my own name for noe 
more than ten thousand five hundred, which is made payable 
to you two, and the other twenty eight thousand five hundred 
as hereafter mention'd is made payable to S r Stephen Evance, 
th6 I consigne it to you both, and letters are sent by each person 
to S r Stephen Evance to Countenance it and I have taken 
Declarations of trust from each person, soe pray let it be con- 
ceal'd, as I intend it, and if the Company can't pay you in money, 
and you see noe reason to the contrary, take their bonds at 
interest, and if they pay you money, I doe empower you, if you 
meet with an advantageous purchase in Wiltsheir or Dorsetsheir, 
to lay it out all or any part of it, and if it should exceed the sum 
you may take it up at interest till I send more effects or come 
my Selfe, but let it be bought in S r Stephen's name with the advice 
of Mr. Dobyn, Cozen Ettrick and Cozen Tom Pitt, and if noe 
such thing offers, then put it at secure interest, or where it may 
make some advantage towards the bearing the charges of my 

Since writing the foregoing I have been considering how- 
to arme you to dispute with the New Company, if they should 
refuse the paying of these bills, the loan of which money has 
been at the earnest request of their President, Mr. Tillard, who 

any trouble if possible 
to be avoided, what he has done in this matter has been by the 
advice of the President and Councill, all which relating thereto 
I send you Copy thereof, which must be only for your own direc- 
tion and not publish'd by any means 1 ." 

1 Hedges 3. 98. 


The Governor's misgivings were fully justified. 
The directors of the separate affairs of the New Com- 
pany were very much taken aback at finding the 
extent of the liabilities which had been incurred 
on their behalf. For years they had been living in 
a fool's Paradise, misled by the sanguine letters sent 
home from time to time by their late President. It 
is unlikely that they learnt the true history of their 
affairs at Masulipatam until after a protracted in- 
quiry and close examination of President Tillard and 
the documents brought home by him. Pending the 
result of this scrutiny they refused to accept the bills, 
which had been drawn on them by him, and questioned 
not only the amount of their debts to the merchants 
as admitted by their representatives in India, but 
also the interest allowed on it, and the rate of 
exchange at which the bills had been drawn. As 
might have been expected, they were ultimately 
convinced that Governor Pitt, who was the last 
man in the world to pay away money without clear 
proof that it was owing, and who was far too well 
versed in the tricks of the natives to be readily 
imposed upon, had not paid the merchants too much. 
But it was very difficult to make them understand 
that he had not overcharged them. In dealing with 
him and his friends, who had advanced the money to 
pay the merchants, they affected to ignore the ele- 
mentary truth, which the smallest knowledge of the 
Eastern trade should have made clear to them, that 
the rate of interest on debts in India was higher than 
in Europe, and that the purchasing value of a pagoda, 
which was nine shillings in England, was very much 
more in India. They must have known that in the 
most favourable circumstances gold and silver, the 
most profitable articles to carry from England to the 
East, took many months to get there ; and their 
own recent experience in the wreck of the N orris must 


have taught them that those who sent bullion out 
ran a considerable risk of losing it altogether on the 
way. The correspondence that ensued between the 
Governor and his Council on the one hand and their 
advisers and opponents on the other on these and 
other points was heated and protracted. The follow- 
ing extracts from it will suffice to show its nature, 
and the attitude of the two parties on the main points 
in dispute. 

The first intimation that the bills were dishonoured 
that reached the Governor seems to have been con- 
tained in a letter from his son Robert, dated the 
3rd of January 1706, who writes 1 : 

" The bills drawn on the Company are protested 
for non acceptance, and we cannot proceed against 
them at law until after the long vacation. If we are 
all hearty in the business we shall certainly cast 
them, but I fear that Lord Halifax, who is concerned 
in those bills, will not join with us ; as well because 
he will be satisfied underhand as that he will be tender 
to his own brat. You know he was a great promoter 
of the New Company, and in discourse we held lately, 
seemed unwilling to take rigorous measures against 
it for the recovery of money/' 

In a letter to the Governor, dated a day later, 
Sir Gilbert Dolben writes 2 : " You will have been 
informed by Sir Stephen Evance and your son that 
the Directors of the English Company refuse to 
accept the bills drawn on them by Mr. Tillard, 
although it has been sufficiently demonstrated to them 
that the money for which these bills were drawn was 
applied in satisfaction of their debts and to support 
their credit. If not in a better mind when the bills 
become due, effectual measures will be taken to 
compel them to make payment, although they are 
mightily exalted since their union with the other 

1 Dropmore i. 16. Dropmore i. 17. 


Company. Although that union be advantageous 
to the Companies, and perhaps to the trade, it will 
in my opinion prove very prejudicial to their fellow 
subjects. For besides their engrossing the market, 
they have gained such an addition of strength and 
interest by being united, that scarce any particular 
persons are able to cope with them. But we who 
have demands on them resolve to unite in encounter- 
ing them/' 

In a letter dated the 8th of February in the same 
year, Charles Du Bois, the Secretary of the United 
Company, speaking of the services done by the 
Governor to the Company in another matter, says 1 : 
" This has stopped the mouths of everybody on that 
head ; and the New Company have now nothing but 
Tillard's bills of exchange to talk of. I have told 
their leaders my opinion of that matter, but I see 
they apprehend themselves ill dealt with by too 
high an exchange taken on the bills." 

About the same time Robert Pitt and Evans seem 
to have written to the Governor advising a com- 
promise. To this he was strongly opposed, and wrote 
back to them on the 2gth of September in that year 2 : 

" I received the protests, and enough of them to have roasted 
a Bartholomew Fair pig. I like your first resolutions as to com- 
pelling the Company to pay the bills, but afterwards I find you 
are become very pusillanimous, and incline to abatement. I had 
rather lose the whole sum than a day's interest. Mr. Tillard 
can neither say nor do anything to our prejudice. Mess 
Dolben and Affleck on their arrival will join heartily in the 
prosecution, thereby easing Sir Stephen, and will justify it false 
that the merchants were not to have their money until after 
the bills had been paid ; who had most of it down, and the 
remainder soon after, for their condition is such they could not 
stay for it, no more than the nation could for the two millions for 
which they have made the Company pay 8 per centum per annum. 
An honest country gentleman Parliament may chance to take 
a review of that too. For my part I wonder at the foolish 

1 Dropmore i. 20. 2 foropmore I. 22. 


questions they ask, as why was it not done for them ? when they 
had not a penny in the place, nor credit. I am not insensible 
of the kindness the New Company have for me, and shall not be 
backward in making them suitable returns when it lies in my 
power. They have written us some very odd sorts of letters, 
and we have given them such answers as they deserve. 

Mr. Tillard's examination before the Committee does not 
prejudice the bills ; and for the four you mention that make it 
their business, within and without doors, to oppose the payment 
of them, I doubt not they would rob upon the highway if they 
had but courage." 

The tone of the answers to which the Governor 
refers in this letter may be gathered from the following 
extract from a letter written by him and his Council 
to the Court of Directors for the separate affairs 
of the New Company dated the 2ist of September 

" Yt>u say you think it not reasonable that you should pay 
more money than was paid to the Black Merchants, and that 
at Nine Shillings a Pagoda. Where is the obligation or Custom 
for anybody to lend you money on those termes ? don't you 
yourselves when you lend money to subsist Ships abroad make 
them pay Fifty Pr. cent ? and the same Profit upon all Damaged 
Goods ? We are here Merchants too, and make it our care to 
turne our money to the best advantage. What sort of Idiot must 
that be to Lend you a Pagoda at Nine Shillings, when at Bot- 
tomry at that time could have had Thirteen and Sixpence, and 
Diamonds security ? or to have bought them, would have made 
from Sixteen Shillings to Twenty Shillings a Pagoda ? The 
Governour believes all of you have been concerned, as he has, 
in buying of Tallys, Exchequer Notes, Bank Bills and East 
India Bonds, and did you ever hear that the Persons who bought 
them were question'd for it, and th6 never so cheap anything 
deducted when Payment made ? and then for the security of 
the two former, there was the faith of the Nation, not to be 
mentioned with that of a Company ; so then are your bonds 
so sacred as not to be bought or sold, or of so little value that 
we should not have regarded them 1 ? " 

Before these letters reached England, Evans had 
compromised and agreed to an abatement of the 
amounts to be paid to the holders of the bills, a 

1 Hedges 3. no. 


course to which great exception was taken by the 
Governor and which confirmed his suspicions that 
Sir Stephen was short of ready money, and that 
it was unsafe to trust him any longer with the 
custody of his great diamond 1 . It will be seen 
from the following letter from the Governor and his 
Council to the Court of the New Company that the 
letter notifying that the bills would be paid was 
nearly a year in reaching its destination, and that 
when the terms of the compromise subsequently 
reached Fort St George they gave great dissatis- 
faction to the holders of the bills 2 . 

"2oth Dec. 1707. 
Honble Sirs, 

We received yours of the 26th of April 1706 by the Indian 
Frigatt, who arrived here on the 24th April last, in which you 
advise you are come to an Agreement on the Bills of Exchange 
drawn on your Company by Mr. Tillard, and that you shall pay 
them to the satisfaction of the bearers thereof, but by the last ships, 
the Howland and Dutchess, those concerned here have received 
an Account on what terms you have pay'd them, wich is Nine 
Shillings and Sixpence a Pagoda, instead of Ten Shillings and 
Sixpence, Three per cent discount, noe Interest from the time 
they were due, and half pr cent charg'd for recovering what 
they did of you, with which the Proprietors here are greatly 
dissatisfyed, and think they have unparallel'd injustice done 

(Sd by) Tho. Pitt, M. Empson, 

W. Martin, , Rob. Raworth. 

Tho. Frederick and Rich. Hunt." 

In another letter of the same date with reference 
to certain questions raised by the Company as to the 
accounts of their late President, Consul Pitt, they 
write 3 : 

" We observe your resentment of the actions of your Metch- 
lepatam President", with whom T. Pitt held no manner of corre- 
spondence or had to doe with him for a fanam, after he came 
into your Service, soe is wholely a stranger to any frauds com- 
mitted by him, or any piscashes he received, yet cant but think 

1 Dropmore i. 26. 
2 Hedges 3. 106. 3 Hedges 3. 105. 


you had hard usage in some respects, but know not whether 
it may be justly imputed to his infidelity, Ignorance or care- 
lessness, and Mr. R. Raworth he was then very young, and the 
top of his preferment was a little while the secretary, soe was 
never let into the arcana imperia. As to the Dustore Mr. Tillard, 
wee suppose, informs you, that it was shared between the Chief 
Dubash and some Conocopolies, for that you have noe credit 
for it in any of your accounts, but the Merchants paid it. How 
well satisfy 'd the proprietors of your bills are with the payment, 
is fully answer'd in other letters, only we must advise you this 
is a great truth, that your paying those bills in the manner you 
did, and wee not paying the West Coast, has so impaired the 
credit of Companys that black nor white will not lend anything 
considerable to 'em, unless your Governor gives his single bond, 
instances of which is few days past." 

It is difficult to believe that the directors of the 
New Company really entertained the suspicion that 
Governor Pitt was implicated in the business trans- 
actions of his late cousin, or considered that the 
delinquencies of the latter had any bearing on the 
questions in dispute with reference to the bills. The 
mere fact that they imported this matter into the 
controversy indicates how weak they must have felt 
their case to be. That they had full confidence in 
the Governor's honesty seems clear from the next 
step which they took, which was to leave the settle- 
ment of the remainder of their debt at Masulipatam 
unreservedly in his hands. Writing to Dolben on 
the nth of September 1707, he says 1 : " I wrote you 
by the Loyall Cooke how matters stood as to the 
New Companys debt, what scurrilous and imperte- 
nent letters they wrote hither, and the answer we 
gave 'em ; but this year to my great amazement 
they have thrown the matter wholely into my hands, 
but with an // they owe any more, for me to clear it 
and draw bills upon 'em for the same, which bills if 
there was money to be taken up makes me lyable 
for payment if they should be protested/' 

1 Hedges 3. 104. 


Notwithstanding the unfairness of this proposal, 
he accepted it, but at the same time appealed to their 
sense of justice to treat him honourably. On the 
I7th of December 1707 he wrote to them 1 : 

" Srs, 

Twas with no small surprise to me to see that you honour'd 
me with your Commands, which I will be sure to execute with 
the nicest honour and care imaginable and the best judgment 
I am capable of. 

I did conceive I had done you an eminent piece of Service 
(and believe time has or will confirm it) in assisting as I did 
Mr. Tillard, in paying soe considerable a part of your Metchle- 
patam debt, for having not only been an eye witness, but likewise 
concern'd in England, in buying East India bonds, Tallies, 
bank notes &ca which I never heard was censur'd as unfair or 
illegall, encourag'd me to buy yours here, which was a demon- 
strable advantage to yourselves, and no less than preserving 
the Merchants from ruine, but you who are the fountaine of 
Justice have con vine 'd me of my error in making so considerable 
an abatement as a shilling upon each pagoda three pr. cent 
prompt payment, as if the bills had been put up to Sale, and a 
whole year's interest, besides put us to a charge of pr cent 
recovering it, all which amounts to less than 18 and 20 pr cent ; 
but hope when you have consider'd it, you'll find it more just 
and reasonable to repay it, then at first you did to deduct it ; 
for I assure you I came not into that undertaking wholely for 
my own Interest, for that I could have invested my money to as 
much or more advantage, and nothing induc'd me to it soe much 
as the consideration that I then serv'd my friends as well as 
my Selfe, but let some Sycophants Suggest to you what they 
please, had not that money been paid, the merchants would have 
had reason to have been ten times more angry with us than you 
happen'd to be upon paying it. At present I shall say no more 
on this Interest, not doubting but you have or will do us justice 
therein. My Service to you all. 

I am, Honble S rs , 

Your most obedt humble Servant, 
Tho. Pitt." 

In view of the very full explanation of the cir- 
cumstances in which the Governor was induced to 

1 Hedges 3. 106. 


buy these bills, as set out in the foregoing correspon- 
dence, it is difficult to endorse the opinion which 
has been expressed by some writers, that any dis- 
credit attaches to his conduct in the business. It 
should be borne in mind that the only persons who 
questioned the propriety of his proceedings at the 
time were his avowed and implacable enemies, and 
that even they, after hearing his explanations, left 
the final settlement of the remainder of their debt 
unreservedly in his hands. But although this may 
have been some consolation to him, there can be 
no room for doubt that the continued irritation so 
studiously fomented by the vexatious proceedings 
of the representatives of the New Company in 
England and their confidential spies in his Council at 
Fort St George was beginning to tell upon him, and 
that the small residue of his patience was becoming 
rapidly exhausted. In a letter written to the Court 
of the Old Company 1 , whilst the dispute about these 
bills was still pending (i6th September 1706), he 
goes so far as to inquire whether after all it is not 
possible to dissolve the Union between the two 
Companies which in his opinion was doing so much 
mischief in India, and he offers to come home at 
once if necessary to assist in this project. " Surely," 
he asks, " will their never be a Turne of Times againe, 
that you will be able to wrest this Trade out of the 
Hands of those that did the same for you, who I 
believe have got but little by their project ? for 
my part I will throw in my Poor Mite to help itt 
forward, and if you succeed in itt I'll come abroade 
againe to serve you too. Twas very unfortunate 
your being soe hasty in the Union ; for if your 
Servants here abroade had all alike stood their ground, 
there had not by this been a New Companys man in 
the Land of the Liveing in these parts. Att this 

1 Hedges 3. 103. 


time my Intentions are to come upon the Tanker- 
ville, and if I stay till this time twelve month, 'tis 
purely on your account, by which time your Bottome 
will be wound up on this Coast/' 

It is not improbable that he would have come 
home as suggested in this letter if it had not been 
for the death of Aurungzeb, which took place on the 
2ist of February 1707. In an earlier letter to his 
son Robert he had written 1 : " I can think of nothing 
to hinder my coming unless it be some extraordinary 
news from England or great confusion caused by the 
death of the King of this country, in which case I 
could not with honour allow the government of this 
place or 'Fort St. David fall into the hands of Fraser 
and such as are here/' This contingency having 
arisen, he could not with honour have left his post. 
At this crisis no one could be better qualified than he 
was, or more unfit than Fraser, to conduct with 
Aurungzeb's successor, Shah Aulum, the negotia- 
tions on behalf of the Company for the confirmation 
and extension of the privileges already granted to 
the English in Madras. These negotiations gave 
him little difficulty, and, as will be shown, were 
eminently satisfactory. But in the internal affairs 
of the settlement and the management of his official 
staff he never had a more troublesome time during 
the whole of his Governorship than that which now 
awaited him. If his patience was nearly exhausted, 
so also was that of some of his colleagues, whose 
promotion depended on his retirement. He had 
already remained in office longer than any previous 
Governor ; and his relations during the last few years 
with Fraser, which were notorious alike amongst 
the European and native communities at Fort 
St George, had become intolerable, and were such that 
they might at any time bring about a serious official 

1 Dropmore i. 18. 


catastrophe. In his letters to his firm friend, Sir 
Thomas Cook, the Governor of the United Company, 
and to William Hewer, he had warned them more than 
once of the inevitable mischief to the Company that 
must arise from the employment of fools and knaves 
as their servants, and promoting them according 
to their seniority over the heads of better men 1 . The 
time was now at hand when the evil consequences of 
the persistence of the Court in this disastrous policy 
were to be brought home to them in a very unpleasant 

1 Hedges 3. 103. 



THE Hindu population of Black Town had been 
attracted thither for one common purpose, the 
making of their livelihood out of the European trade. 
In this they had succeeded. In course of time most 
of them had come to appreciate the immunity which 
they enjoyed there from the exactions and tyranny 
of the native rulers, and very few can have wished 
to leave the settlement. But they were by no means 
disposed to live together in unity. Apart from the 
inevitable mutual jealousies that arose from many 
of them being trade competitors, serious dissensions 
had occurred from time to time amongst them by 
reason of their hereditary and traditional animosities. 
They were divided into two main factions, the 
Right and Left Hand Castes, the members of which 
were as ready to fall out with one another on the 
smallest provocation as Orangemen and Ribbon- 
men were in Ireland or the Montagues and Capulets 
in Verona. The Right Hand Caste occupied the 
higher social position. It included most of the 
agricultural tribesmen, and had the support of the 
pariahs, who prided themselves on being its allies 1 . 
The Left Hand Caste, whom it looked down upon, 
seems to have consisted mainly of members of the 
manufacturing and trading tribes. The antagonism 
of the two factions had its foundation in religious 

1 Hedges 3. no. 


differences ; but was fomented by the claims of the 
Right Hand Caste to certain exclusive privileges and 
prerogatives, which the Left Hand Caste was un- 
willing to recognise. As far back as 1652, during 
the Governorship of Sir William Langhorne, faction 
fights were frequent 1 ; and an attempt had been 
made to check them by assigning separate quarters 
in the town to the two parties. Express orders had 
been given that the weddings and burials of each 
caste, which were the most frequent excuses for the 
outburst of hostilities, should be held exclusively in 
the streets then allocated to that caste. Unfortunately 
these orders had not been systematically and rigidly 
enforced, and there were certain streets in the town 
in which the houses had continued to be occupied by 
members of both castes. It was in these streets that 
the faction fights most frequently occurred. 

The immediate cause of the serious quarrel between 
the two factions, that took place towards the end of 
Thomas Pitt's Governorship, seems to have been a 
change which he had made in accordance .with the 
wishes of the Court of the United Company in the 
system of buying and selling the Company's goods. 
Up to that time it had been the practice to procure 
the Company's goods through the agency of native 
brokers or merchants, who contracted to supply 
them according to sample, and who received dadni, 
or advance money, for payment of the wages of the 
weavers or others employed in the manufacture. In 
the earlier days of the Presidency, before the credit 
of the Company was firmly established, this was 
practically the only way in which the orders of the 
Court to send home any particular goods they might 
require could be executed. The brokers and mer- 
chants who entered into these contracts had been 
for the most part members of the Right Hand Caste. 

1 Wheeler 2. 53. 


Some of them, Casa Verona, for example, had made 
enormous fortunes out of them, and were suspected 
of having paid large subsidies to some of the earlier 
Governors for the exclusive privilege of selling to 
the Company and buying the Company's goods. 
The Court were now anxious to put an end to this 
system, by encouraging all classes of merchants to 
bring in their own goods for sale and to compete 
with one another in the mart at the Sea Gate, giving 
the Company's factors the opportunity of examining 
and selecting the goods that seemed the best and 
cheapest, and haggling with the competing vendors. 
In other words, they wished to break down the ring 
of brokers, and to give all the native merchants an 
equal chance in the open market ; by which means 
they hoped to obtain a greater variety of goods than 
formerly and at lower prices. That it was this 
change of policy, whether suggested by Pitt or not, 
which was the immediate cause of the outbreak of 
the smouldering antagonism of the two castes which 
gave the Governor so much trouble and was ultimately 
made the ostensible excuse for his dismissal seems 
clear from the following extract from a letter from 
him to Sir Edmund Harrison in December 1707 after 
the riots had been put down 1 : 

" You will see," he writes, " the troubles we have had between 
2 sects of our Inhabitants, distinguished by the names of Right 
and Left Hand Castes. The former had layd a design deep and 
black, utterly to extirpatt the other out of this City, and that 
they might the more effectually compass their ends, some of the 
heads of the Left Hand Caste were to be murder'd, which would 
have put such a consternation upon the rest, that not one would 
have remain'd with us. The grounds of these dissentions, and 
what lead the Right Hand Caste into this hellish conspiracy I find 
to be that it had firmly been praktis'd among 'em that the 
Left Hand Cast could not make any bargains or buy any goods 
unless one of the Right hand were Join'd with 'em to direct 
their Shairs, so that they govern'd the trade as they thought 

1 Hedges 3. 113. t 

D. 21 


fit, and the Companys Investment fell generally under their 
management, who would never enter into any contracts of 
providing goods without advancing money to 'em, to break 
the neck of which (sometime before the Company had order'd 
us the method wee now took) I put up papers upon the sea gate 
and other publick places, to encourage all merchants indifferently 
to bring in goods to be Sorted by the Companys musters, and 
wou'd agree the Price and pay 'em ready money for 'em, but 
this tryall had not the effect I desir'd. The Left Hand Cast 
(who are the only merchants that can serve you in this method) 
being intimidated by the threats of the Right, and overaw'd 
by 'em, and upon receiving your order to advance no money 
or payment upon Investments I took care to publish it among 
'em, and that we could not recede from the directions you had 
given us, upon which some of the most eminent Merchants of 
the Left, prevail'd upon by the assurance of our protecting and 
defending 'em against the insults of the other, undertook the 
providing goods in the manner you direct (and indeed none else 
could have done it) upon which the Right Hand upon seeing 
their designs defeated, and that the reigns of trade was no longer 
in their hands, fell upon this barbarous attempt to regain it, 
industriously spreading false rumours amongst the poor and 
ignorant people to cause 'em to desert us. I have discover'd the 
heads of the faction, and shall reward 'em according to their 

This letter disposes of the suggestions afterwards 
made that the disorders which ensued were brought 
about by the arbitrary conduct of the Governor, 
unfairly on his own initiative and for his own private 
ends favouring the Left Hand Caste. The facts 
are that the reformation in the Company's trade 
which he ha'd been ordered by the Court to carry 
out was a very desirable one, and that it could only 
be effected by his undertaking to protect those 
members of the Left Hand Caste, who were willing 
to assist in it, against the insults and attacks of their 
enemies of the Right Hand Caste, who were deter- 
mined to resist it. That such protection was necessary 
very soon became abundantly apparent. 

It appears from another letter of the Governor 
that the rioting between the two castes began towards 


the end of June ijoj 1 , immediately after the sale 
of the Company's broadcloth to some members of 
the Left Hand Caste, and the purchase from the latter 
of some goods under the system of trade now insti- 
tuted in accordance with the orders of the Court. 
What happened is thus described by the Governor : 

" Two or three hundred men of the Right Hand 
Cast, rose at Midnight upon the Left Hand who were 
making a wedding in their own Street, and until'd 
Some of their houses, but by the Peddanaigue 2 were 
dispersed." " Soe complaints came to mee next 
morning, when I found the Right Hand notorious 
Egressors, soe punished the Ringleaders, and in 
Consultation wee ordered that Narran and Surapa 
for the Right Hand and Colloway and Vincatty for 
the Left, to whome wee joyn'd the paymaster and 
Gunner" (should) "Survey their Streets and report 
what could be convenientest appropriated to the 
Left Hand Caste to keep their Weddings in, and 
prevent further disputes, Soe accordingly they 
mett at the very place severall times, when the 
beginning of this month " (July) " they were all 
before us in Consultation, and Reported unani- 
mously that the Left Hand should have two Streets 
where all their houses were, Soe t'was ordered that 
the Paymaster should put up Stones at the charge of 
the Right Hand, with a suitable Inscription to Stint 
the limitts, which accordingly was done, and all well." 

This account of the beginning of the quarrel is 
substantially confirmed by the entries in the Consul- 
tation Book of the 26th June and the I7th of July 3 , 
from which it further appears that " those few of the 
Right Hand Caste " who were living in the streets 
assigned to the Left Hand Caste were to sell their 
houses, and go and live in the streets amongst their 

1 Hedges 3. 109. 2 Pedda-nayakan, head police officer. 

8 Wheeler 2. 50. 

21 2 


own caste ; and that the two streets assigned to 
the Left Hand Caste were to be " peculiarly appro- 
priated for the Left Hand Caste to pass in at their 
making their weddings and festivals " ; and that 
none of the Right Hand Caste were to give them 
the least disturbance in their precinct at their utmost 
peril. " And it was further ordered that to prevent 
either Caste from pretending ignorance of these limits, 
the Paymaster should set up four Stones at the cost 
of the Left Hand Caste and insert thereon in English 
and Gentoo the purport of this order/' 

This decision, which seems to have been unani- 
mously come to by all the members of the Council, 
gave great umbrage to the Right Hand Caste ; and 
when the stones had been set up in accordance with 
it, some person or persons unknown in the night 
of the I2th of August, placed papers on them in the 
Malabar language to the following effect : 

" Since the foundation of this city no such thing has been 
known. By the authority of the Government and prevalence of 
money this Pillar was erected, in contempt and derision of 
the Right Hand Caste, who will forfeit the rights of their caste, 
if they do not destroy the others like dogs and tumble them 
down. If it be demanded by whose order this was written, 
it is by the will of the King of England and the Company, who 
will not fail to bring these things to pass ; and this by way of 

On the day after the discovery of these seditious 
notices the heads of the Right Hand Caste were 
sent for by the Council and charged with having had 
a hand in them, which they denied. They were given 
a month's notice to find out the delinquents, and 
informed that if they failed to discover them they 
would be fined such a sum of money as the Governor 
and Council might think fit. 

Three days afterwards, on the I7th of August, 
the Right Hand Caste went with great pomp with a 
wedding through one of the prohibited streets, on 


hearing of which the Governor sent out a party 
of soldiers, who seized nineteen of them, and brought 
them as prisoners into the Choultry gaol. 

On the igth of August the Governor summoned a 
Council and informed his colleagues of what had 
been done. On the same day a large body of repre- 
sentatives of the Right Hand Caste came to the fort, 
and presented a petition, in which it was alleged 
that the two streets, in which the stones had been 
put up, had on the first settlement of the fort been 
exclusively inhabited by the Right Hand Caste, 
until the French troubles at St Thome during the 
Governorship of Sir William Langhorne, at which 
time several of the immigrants from St Thome 
had without the knowledge or permission of the 
Government built their houses one amongst the 
other within the quarters of the Right Hand Caste, 

" which," to quote from the petition, " being complained of to 
Sir William Langhorn, and the ill effects of the falling out of the 
two Castes being taken into consideration, it was ordered that 
they should not live together ; but that the Right Hand people 
should go to the place that was first granted to them to inhabit, 
and that the Left Hand should go to theirs. Accordingly to 
which order the Right Hand people did obey, and likewise 
some of the Left Hand people ; but others did desire leave to 
stay till the rains was over, which was granted, but after to 
retire to their own streets ; which to this day they have not 
done, but rather have encroached more upon your Petitioners' 
property. Likewise the Weddings that were made by the Left 
Hand people that lived amongst your Petitioners, were ordered 
to be kept always in their own streets ; but if it happened that 
they did make any Weddings in your Petitioners' streets, it 
was ordered to be done privately in their own houses, without 
any music or any such ceremony. But they now very unreason- 
ably desire your Petitioners' Streets which was never done 
before; and they having complained to your Honour, but on 
what account or reason we do not know. Now in the Streets 
wherein the Stones were erected, there are one hundred of your 
Petitioners' houses, with several Wells, Churches, Gardens and 
Choultries; all which belong to your Petitioners, the Right 
Hand people. Being very many, being twenty one Castes in 


all of these people, we cannot tell every one's mind. The country 
people have sent letters to us, but what they can do for us we do 
not know. We all living under your Honour's protection, are afraid 
to disoblige your Honour, therefore stay very quiet. From the 
beginning of the world to this day it was never known that any 
Government did take away your Petitioners' streets, and give 
them to the Left Caste people, which they know to be true. 
Now they having made many false complaints to your Honour, 
which is the occasion of all this trouble ; for the Streets wherein 
the Stones are erected are the first streets of the Right Hand 
Castes for all strangers that come from the country. For these 
streets your Honour has given to the Left Hand Castes is a very 
great dissatisfaction to all the Right Hand Caste People." 

Up to the day when this petition was presented 
Fraser seems to have acquiesced in the previous deci- 
sions of the Governor and Council in this matter. ' ' He 
had joyn'd with us/' the Governor writes, " in every 
little that was done, nay, I may say forwarder than 
myselfe 1 /' But now he had changed his mind ; and 
at this Council meeting, just before the presentation 
of the petition, he posed as the champion of the Right 
Hand Caste. " He begun/' the Governor writes, 

" a long Speach, which you may remember I seldome hearken 
to, but as providence would have it, I did to this, and as soon 
as he had done it wee were told that the Right Hand Cast was 
at the door with a Petition who were presently call'd in, and as 
usuall 'twas read, which prov'd to be the purport of Frasier's 
speach, Soe I that minet charg'd him with having made it or 
read it, which he deny'd with confusion. Two days after the 
boatmen, washermen, Barbers, Cooleys Parriars &ca deserted us, 
this made us not a little jealous that Ffrasier had betray 'd our 
Councils, upon which wee suspended him the Service." 

A detailed account of the meeting of the Council 
at which Fraser was suspended is given in the Con- 
sultation Book of the 22nd of August. Some of the 
passages in it bear unmistakable internal evidence 
of their having been composed by the Governor. It 
states that the Governor had summoned all the 
Council except Mr Fraser, whom he suspected of 

1 Hedges 3. in. 


having betrayed them in what they had done in 
the settlement of the dispute between the two castes. 
The Governor, the account says 1 , 

" gave us this instance of it. That when on the iQth past, he 
acquainted the Board of the insolence of the Pariahs, who went 
through the Left Hand Streets with a Wedding, and what he had 
done thereon ; when immediately Mr. Fraser according to his 
custom made a long senseless speech, the purport showing that he 
was now against what had been transacted in Consultation about 
the Castes ; which no notice was taken of as coming from him. 
But then the next minute the Right Hand Caste delivered their 
Petition, which was presently read, and entirely agreed with the 
purport of what just before Mr. Fraser spoke. When the Governor 
immediately charged him with making or reading of it which 
he then denied in great confusion, and the same was taken notice 
of by Messrs. Raworth and Frederick present in Council. So 
the Governor laying before the Board the worst of consequences 
that might attend the Company's affairs, as well as our own per- 
sons, to have one amongst us to betray our counsels ; of which 
the Council being equally sensible, desired Mr. Fraser might be 
sent for ; which was accordingly done. When he was charged 
with what before mentioned, and told by the Governor that it 
was impossible he could make a speech so coherent with a Petition 
that was just after delivered in, without having made or read it ; 
to which he made no other defence than that we should prove 
it if we could. The Governor at the same time charged him 
with directing the Malabar inscription that was put upon the 
Stones, which he denied with strange asseveration and execra- 
tions, but to the making or reading of the petition only a plain 
denial. So after he told us he had no more to say in his defence, 
the Governor desired him to withdraw, which he refused to do, 
but afterwards obliged him to it. 

When we debated the nature of his offence and the ill 
consequences of any of the Council encouraging Petitions against 
our proceedings in general, or such in particular as he himself 
seemingly agreed to, without the least hesitation to anything 
that was done relating to the Castes the Governor to prevent 
his doing further mischief pressed the necessity of his being sus- 
pended ab officio et beneficio; alleging that no inconveniency 
could accrue from it, for that his abilities were so little con- 
siderable, that all of us knew in our consciences that he never 
merited rice and water from the Company ; but yet with his 
malice pride and envy, he has often made strange progress in 

1 Wheeler 2. 55. 


mischief, and wholly incapable of doing good. And it is not 
amiss to insert one or two passages, though foreign to this present 
matter. Some time past, upon a suspicion that there was a 
difference between the Governor and Mr. Raworth, an impudent 
Dubash, that was often trusted with Mr. Eraser's whispers, 
came up to Mr. Raworth in his chamber, and told him that he 
heard there was a difference between the Governor and him ; 
that he treated him as he did others ; but if he would stand 
against him and come and join with Mr. Fraser and his party, 
he was sure they would be able to suppress him ; upon which 
Mr. Raworth treated him as became him by kicking him down- 
stairs." " That whenever the Governor has frowned upon any 
one for crimes and misdemeanours, whether white men or black, 
it is well known that they were always cherished by Mr. Fraser ; 
who has been the pest of the Government as well as the ridicule 
and scum of the place. Yet, notwithstanding all before men- 
tioned is well known to be great truths to every man that sits 
upon the Board, who desired the Governor to leave him out at 
the last sorting Summons, for that he was so impertinent and 
troublesome that no business could be done ; yet they were 
generally unwilling to suspend him the service, till the Governor 
solemnly avowed that he would sit no more with him in Council, 
nor give his opinion in any affairs more of the Company's where 
he was present ; which induced the Council unanimously to 
suspend him the Company's service officio et beneficio till their 
pleasure was known in this matter ; which the Secretary is 
ordered to acquaint himself therewith, and that wee will give 
him a copy of what wee write home to the Company relating to 
him, that so his defence and answer may go therewith." 

Three days after Fraser's suspension, the Governor 
summoned a meeting of twelve of the principal 
heads of the two castes, and shut them up in a room 
at the fort 1 , to see whether they could not come to 
some agreement with reference to the matters in 
dispute. In a few hours they came to terms with 
one another, and submitted an agreement which they 
were all prepared to sign. It provided that one of 
the two streets which had recently been assigned to 
the Left Hand Caste should be handed over to the 
Right Hand Caste, and that the Left Hand Caste 
should remain in undisputed possession of the other 

1 Wheeler 2. 60 82. 


street, on condition that the boatmen, lascars and 
fishermen living there should be allowed to remain 
in the houses occupied by them, provided that they 
did not offer any molestation to the Left Hand Caste, 
and that the inscription on the stones which had 
been set up were erased. This 'arrangement, which 
was a great concession to the Right Hand Caste, 
being desired by the heads of both castes, the Gover- 
nor and Council assented to it, on the understanding 
that the representatives of the Right Hand Caste, 
who had entered into it, would undertake to inform 
their supporters, who had left the city, of its purport 
in order to induce them to return. As a further 
inducement the Governor on the 2Qth of August 
published a General Pardon to such of the deserters 
as might return before the loth of September. Very 
few having come back, the Armenians, Persians and 
Patans residing in the city, came in a body of fifty 
or sixty to the fort and tendered their services to 
the Governor as mediators, and their offer having 
been accepted they went to St Thome with this object 
on the i6th of September. Before they started, a 
Gasbardar or messenger came from St Thome, who 
had been sent by the Nawab to turn out the Governor 
there, and to put in a new one. Being admitted to 
a conference with the Governor, he expressed himself 
concerned at the troubles of the two castes, which he 
said were frequent in the country, and sometimes grew 
to such a pitch that the Native Government found a 
great deal of difficulty in quelling them ; and he 
explained that the continuance of the present 
troubles was not due to the inhabitants of St Thome, 
but to the Governor's own people who remained in 
the town, who not only gave the deserters their 
directions, but also sent them their subsistence. 
He added : " You are likewise betrayed by some that 
sit at this Table/' and being asked what he meant, 


said that the day before, when talking with three of 
the heads of the castes they had told him that the 
Second of the Council (Fraser) was on their side ; 
and that they would not return on any terms, unless 
he was reinstated in the Company's service ; but 
that if he would come they would meet him any- 
where, and return with him without insisting on 
any pardon ; for that they were assured that he was 
their friend and had never consented to what the 
Governor and Council had done in favour of the 
Left Hand Caste, which belief had gained him such 
a reputation amongst the mob, that they went up 
and down the street in his hearing crying out " Chinna 
Captain/' " Chinna Captain," which implied in their 
language the Second in Command. 

On the following day the Governor summoned 
another meeting of the Council, and informed them 
of what the Gasbardar had told him, which was 
confirmed by the confession of three of the heads of 
the Right Hand Caste, who stated that on accom- 
panying some of the Armenians and Persians who 
had gone to St Thome the day before in order to 
accommodate the differences, they were stopped at 
the gate by the mob, heard cries for the Chinna 
Captain, and were asked why he did not come, for 
nothing could be done towards their return without 
him. They also informed the Council that the 
leaders of the Right Hand Caste at St Thome had 
written to several members of their caste at Fort 
St George, threatening their lives and to turn them 
out of their caste if they did not come and join them, 
which much intimidated some of the poorer people, 
though not the men of substance, who had written 
to the deserters to tell them that they were satisfied 
m all matters relating to their caste, and that there- 
fore any ill consequences that might attend the 
continuance of further disputes must lie at the doors 


of the malcontents. The messenger who had taken 
this letter arrived in the course of the meeting, and 
reported that the deserters had returned no answer 
to it in writing, but that they had sent word by him 
that they would accept no Cowle that was not signed 
by Fraser, and that the stones which had been put up 
must be brought to St Thome or put into the Pagoda. 
Upon which Fraser was sent for, and the Governor 
charged him with being at the bottom of the whole 
business. " To which/' to quote from the Consultation 
Book, " he answered that it was all a grand suppose 
and flatly denied all." He was then ordered to with- 
draw, and it was unanimously agreed that as he was 
preparing to move out of his lodgings to a house in 
the town, he should be stopped from doing so, and 
confined for the present in the fort, and that no one 
should be allowed to hold discourse with him, except 
in the presence of the sentinel. Orders were given 
to the captain of the guard to see that this was done. 
About a week afterwards the refractory members 
of the Right Hand Caste seemed to have made up 
their minds to return, for they came out of St Thome 
all together at about nine o'clock in the morning. 
But when they had nearly reached the town, they 
changed their minds, and returned to St Thome. 
The Governor then made preparations to attack them ; 
but refrained from doing so at the request of the 
Armenians and Persians, and on hearing that the 
new Governor of St Thome would arrive in the course 
of a few hours. The new Governor on his arrival 
seems to have been very anxious to get rid of the 
mob ; and on the 4th of October he brought them 
all back. Their leaders appeared before the Governor 
and were dismissed to their habitations, with assur- 
ances that their pardon should be kept inviolable. 
This ended the whole trouble. A suitable present, 
consisting of four pieces of broadcloth, a piece of 


serge, four swords, one pair of pistols, six pairs of 
spectacles, some knives, penknives, and looking 
glasses, was made to the Governor of St Thome for 
his services in the matter ; and Fraser was released 
from his confinement. 

On a review of these unfortunate occurrences, it 
is clear that the position of the Governor throughout 
was one of great difficulty. In one of his letters 
home he writes : " I must say this much. I never 
mett with Soe knotty a villany in my life, nor ever 
with anything that gave me soe much trouble and 
perplexity as this has done 1 /' Confronted by the 
suspicion, which in his mind and those of his colleagues 
amounted to a certainty, that Fraser was acting in 
treacherous collusion with the Right Hand Caste, 
it would have been madness to have allowed him to 
continue to attend the deliberations of the Council. 
And when the mob at St Thome openly and tumul- 
tuously avowed that they would not return to the 
city except upon terms to be approved by Fraser, 
and Fraser was himself making preparations to leave 
his quarters 4 in the fort, the only possible course open 
to the Governor and his Council was to confine him 
there and keep him under close supervision. It 
appears from the Consultation Book 2 , that the Council 
were unanimous in coming to this decision and that 
after it had been carried into effect the rioters never 
so much as mentioned Fraser 's name again. Criti- 
cism of the details of the proceedings taken by those 
in authority in times of danger and perplexity is 
always easy after the event. But in the main lines 
of his action in this emergency the Governor was 
clearly right ; and his success was indisputable. 
Without bloodshed or any act of violence, in spite 
of the treachery of his second in command and the 
opposition of the Right Hand Caste, who were far 

1 Hedges 3. in. * Wheeler 2. 72, 




more powerful than their opponents, he succeeded 
in carrying out the very salutary reformation of the 
Company's trade which the Court had ordered. 
Nor can it be said that he displayed any undue 
vindictiveness to Eraser notwithstanding his personal 
hatred of the man. " We were mercifull," he truly 
says in a letter to his son, " in not hanging of him 1 ." 
Eraser was in fact released from his confinement as 
soon as the troubles were over. Without the explicit 
orders of the Court it was impossible to remove his 
suspension, even if it had been desirable to do so. 
Nor would any power on earth have induced the 
Governor to sit again in Council with him. This 
he made quite clear to the Court. Writing home in 
the midst of the business to one of them, he says of 
Eraser: " I think there is not such a Wretch in the 
world for Mischeife and Compassing Confusion ; 
and this is a Saint of the New Company's/' " Should 
they reinstate him, he should never sit with me, let 
their orders be what it will, therefore I beg of you 
and all other of my ffriends that if they insist upon 
restoreing him, that you'le all vote to turne me out, 
for noe power whatever Shall ever enjoyne me to set 
with him againe 2 ." Few will be disposed to question 
the propriety of this decision. 

1 Dropmore i. 32. 

8 Hedges 3. 112 



NEARLY two years passed after the return of the 
malcontents of the Right Hand Caste from St Thome 
before the decision of the Court on the suspension of 
Fraser from the Company's service at Fort St George. 
During the interval the Governor was engaged in 
important and successful diplomatic negotiations 
with the high officials of the Imperial Court for the 
confirmation and enlargement of the Company's 
privileges and territory in the Carnatic. The disas- 
trous results of the embassy of Sir William Norris had 
until then deterred the Company's servants in all 
parts of India from making any serious attempts to 
enter into direct communications with the Mogul, 
and had compelled them to content themselves with 
what minor concessions they could get from the 
local Nawabs. Owing to the great uncertainty of 
what would happen on the death of Aurungzeb, 
Governor Pitt, when Norris was starting for the 
Mogul's camp, had expressed his surprise that it 
had been thought worth while to go to so much 
trouble and expense, in the hope of obtaining from 
a dying Emperor privileges which his successors 
would not hesitate to revoke, if it suited their con- 
venience to do so, and which they certainly would 
not continue without renewed payments to them. 
Aurungzeb had lived on longer than had been ex- 
pected, but had at last died in the early part of 1707. 


By his will he had directed that his Empire should be 
divided between his three sons. The eldest, Shah 
Aulum, who up to this time had been ruling as 
Governor of Cabul, was left the Northern and 
Eastern Provinces of the Empire, with Delhi for 
his capital. To Azim Shah, the second son, were 
assigned the Southern and South- Western Provinces, 
including the Deccan, but exclusive of Golconda and 
Bijapoor, which were left to the third son, Kam 
Buksh. Each of the three sons aspired to reign 
over the whole Empire. The two eldest promptly 
waged war against one another, and their armies 
fought a great battle at Agra, in which Azim was 
defeated and slain. In the meanwhile Kam Buksh 
had seized the whole of the Deccan, and he now 
refused to come to terms with his victorious elder 
brother. Whilst the war that ensued was still 
proceeding, its issue uncertain, overtures came to 
Governor Pitt from the officers of Shah Aulum, who 
seem to have recognised the importance of enlisting 
his services at this juncture. It was not unlikely 
that Kam Buksh, if defeated in the coming campaign, 
would retreat to the coast and endeavour to save 
himself from the vengeance of his brother by escaping 
on board of one of the English ships. This his 
brother was anxious to prevent, and was quite willing 
to grant substantial privileges to the Governor of 
Fort St George if he would co-operate with him to 
avert this catastrophe. That this was the main 
motive which induced his officers to approach Pitt 
may be inferred from the following letter, which 
the Governor received from Shah Aulum himself 
some months afterwards, when the negotiations were 
on the eve of completion 1 . " Let the chosen of his 
Caste and Nation, the Governor of Chinnapatam," 
this letter says, " know that he may be in hopes of 

1 Wheeler 2. 107. 


the King's favour. Seeing that Kam Buksh doth 
purpose to fly from the powerful arms of our vic- 
torious army ; for that reason the command of the 
sovereign of the world, worthy of all submission and 
obedience is issued forth : that in case he, Kam Buksh, 
should come wandering, not knowing where to go, 
into those parts, and desire to embark himself on 
some ship in order to get away ; that the chosen of 
his nation shall use his utmost endeavours to procure 
that he shall be either killed or made a prisoner, and 
to effect this, let him know that the command from 
the Royal Throne is strict in the strictest manner. 
Written the iyth of the moon Ramazan the Blessed 
in the second year of the King's Reign/' In justice 
to the Governor, we must bear in mind that although 
it is probable that the King and his officers from the 
first proposed to utilise him after this fashion, they 
seem to have refrained from giving him any intima- 
tion of their intention to impose this very unpleasant 
duty upon him until the negotiations had gone too 
far for him to recede from them. Fortunately for 
all parties, it never became necessary to carry the 
fratricidal mandate into execution. For Kam Buksh 
died of wounds he received in his first battle with 
Shah Aulum's army at Hyderabad in January 1709. 
Among the Mogul's chief advisers were Zulfikar 
Khan, late Commander-in-Chief of Aurungzeb's 
army, Assad Khan, Aurungzeb's Grand Vizier, and 
Zoodee Khan, whom Shah Aulum had made Lord 
High Steward of the Imperial Household. With 
all three Governor Pitt had long been on friendly 
terms. He knew their characters, abilities and 
antecedents ; and they knew his. By a fortunate 
accident, a wife of Zoodee Khan happened to be 
staying at this time at St Thome, presumably for 
the purposes of her health. It was therefore possible 
for the Governor to be of service to her. It was 

xx] THE MOGUL 337 

probably this consideration which led to the nego- 
tiations being commenced by Zoodee Khan, who 
wrote to Pitt, " professing great kindness and ten- 
dering his service in any affair 1 /' The Governor 
contented himself in the first instance with a request 
that Shah Aulum would confirm the privileges 
granted by his father to the English. On the 3ist 
of July 1708 he received the following reply : 

" The Governor of Chinnapatam may depend upon His 
Majesty's Royal Favour. The good and faithful services you 
have done his Majesty's subjects has been represented to him 
by some of his Chief Ministers of State, upon whose recommenda- 
tion of your merits, a mark of his favour to you, he has ordered 
this Hosbulhookum to be sent you to certify the same ; not 
doubting but your deportment will continue to be such as to 
increase in fame and reputation ; and according as you observe 
this Hosbulhookum you may expect further marks of his Majesty's 
grace and countenance 2 ." 

On receiving this gracious message the Governor 
at once summoned the Council and most of the 
Company's servants, with the principal European 
inhabitants of Fort St George, to accompany him 
to the Company's garden, where he was met by all 
the Armenians, Persians, Patans, and leading Hindu 
merchants of the city. He communicated the contents 
of the letter to them ; and celebrated the occasion 
with the firing of salvoes of artillery, the ringing of 
bells and other customary manifestations of public 

A week later it was decided in Council as an 
appropriate compliment in appreciation of her 
husband's services in this affair to send Zoodee 
Khan's lady at St Thome a present valued at from 
120 to 130 pagodas consisting of rosewater, Persian 
fruit, filagree work of Manilla and a piece of Persian 
cloth of gold. Hearing shortly afterwards from 
messengers of Zoodee Khan that she was greatly in 

1 Wheeler 2. 95. * Wheeler 2. 96. 

D. 22 


want of money and would be glad of a loan of 500 
pagodas, because she was not able to get bills from 
her husband, who could not remit them by reason of 
the troublous state of the country, it was arranged 
to lend her the sum asked for, to be repaid in four 
months' time without interest. 

On the 7th of August the following entry occurs 
in the Consultation Book : 

" The purport of the Hosbulhookum from Shah Aulum seems 
to invite us to make our addresses to the King for a continuation 
of our privileges ; which opportunity we resolving to take hold 
of, believing we shall accomplish it for a much less " (cost) 
" to the Company, than if we defer it till the contests between 
the brothers are over : wherefore it is agreed that the Governor 
draws out a petition to the King, a letter to the Grand Vizier, 
and another to Zoodee Khan, and lay them before the Council 
for their advice therein." 

It would seem from this entry that the general 
expectation of the Council was that Shah Aulum would 
be the victor in the coming campaign. In accord- 
ance with their wishes, the Governor during the next 
few days set himself to work to employ to the best 
of his ability what he has on another occasion de- 
scribed as his " talent for writing/' Six days later 
he submitted the results of his labours for the approval 
of his colleagues. 

They consisted of four petitions, one to Shah 
Aulum himself ; one to his Grand Vizier ; one to 
Zulfikar Khan ; and one to Zoodee Khan 1 . All of 
them are interesting samples of the diplomatic 
correspondence of those days between the Company's 
servants and the native rulers of India. The first 
three were in general terms, couched in the customary 
fulsome professions of obsequious deference, humbly 
thanking the great men to whom they were addressed 
for past benefits and entreating a continuance of 

1 Wheeler 2. 97 101. 

xx] THE MOGUL 339 

their gracious favour. The following is a translation 
of the petition to the Mogul : 

" God grant the great King Shah Aulum may live for ever, 
is the hearty Prayers of the Governor of Chinnapatam and of 
all the English Nation in Your Majesty's Dominion, who have 
been here lately blessed with Your Majesty's most Gracious and 
Royal Hosbulhookum : and for Your Majesty's commands 
therein, they shall always be kept as sacred as they were in the 
time of Your Majesty's Royal Predecessors, who were pleased 
to bestow their Royal favours on us in granting us several Privi- 
leges to encourage us in our trade ; for a confirmation of which 
we humbly Petition your Majesty to grant us your Royal Firmaun, 
with what additional favours your Majesty in your Royal Wis- 
dom shall think fit : which we shall not only record in our books, 
but in our hearts also : and as in duty bound shall ever pray 
for your Majesty's long and prosperous reign, and that you may 
always be so victorious as to lay your foot on the neck of your 

The second petition was addressed " To His 
Highness Khan Khanan " (the Khan of Khans) 
" Bahawdee Zephir Jung Grand Vizier/' and was 
thus worded : 

"Your Highnesses noble qualifications and virtues being 
known to all the world, which increase by your daily giving in- 
stances of your justice and mercy, and particularly your favours 
and protection, which you so liberally bestow on all strangers 
in your King's dominions : of which we here have a late instance 
in receiving the blessing of his Majesty's Royal Hosbulhookum: 
which we must attribute to your Highness' s favour and great 
care of us : for which we return our most humble thanks : and 
humbly request that as we now send our Petition to the Great 
King Shah Aulum, humbly desiring his royal Firmaun for a con- 
firmation of our privileges according to Sallabad throughout 
his dominions : that your Highness would be pleased to counte- 
nance and assist us in procuring the same : for which you shall 
not only find us grateful but dutiful : and shall always pray 
for your Highness's health and prosperity, and for ever to be 
blest with the favour of your Great King." 

The petition to Zulfikar Khan, who when Nawab 
of the Carnatic, during the Governorship of Elihu 
Yale, had conferred the existing privileges possessed 
by the Company at Fort St George, and had been 

22 2 


paid 10,000 pagodas for his services on that occasion, 
was as follows : 

" The many obligations we lie under to your Highness are 
never to be forgotten, being rivetted in our memories as well 
as recorded in our books ; which we should have often acknow- 
ledged but prevented by the great distance and troubles of the 
country ; yet nevertheless we never failed to enquire after your 
Highness's health, which God continue. 

Your Highness is well acquainted with the privileges our 
nation enjoyed in the reign of the great Aurungzebe of blessed 
memory ; which we are endeavouring to get confirmed by a 
royal Firmaun from the great King Shah Aulum ; that we and 
our trade may go on in all parts according to Sallabad ; to 
effect which we humbly petition that your Highness will con- 
tinue your constant favours to us in speaking in our behalves 
as an opportunity presents, for which we shall be always grateful, 
and pray for your Highness's health and prosperity." 

In his petition to Zoodee Khan, his go-between, 
the Governor is more specific. He begins by prof- 
fering the same excuse for omitting to send the usual 
complimentary presents to the Emperor and his 
high officials as that which Zoodee Khan had him- 
self lately pleaded for not sending money to his wife, 
viz. the troublous state of the country. He clearly 
explains after a businesslike fashion the different 
concessions that he wishes Zoodee Khan to obtain 
for him ; and inquires what presents will be most 
acceptable to the great men at Court, and to whom 
it will be necessary to give them, in effect seeks to 
be informed what price he will have to pay, whilst 
at the same time he pleads that the losses which have 
recently fallen on his settlement will render it 
impossible for him to give so much as he would 
otherwise have been pleased to do. The following is 
the text of this, the most important letter of the four : 

" To His Excellency Zoodee Khan Lord High Steward of the 
King's Household. 

It is your noble and generous mind that have drawn this 
trouble of our application to you ; and as I wrote you in my 

xx] THE MOGUL 341 

last Letter, which I delivered Aga Makeem, I now send you 
our Humble Petition to the King and Address to the Grand 
Vizier ; copies of which I here enclose to Your Excellency : 
humbly requesting that you will favour us with the management 

We are not ignorant of what should accompany such Peti- 
tions and Addresses ; but the hasards and troubles in the way 
prevent us from performing that part at present : in which I 
humbly desire your Excellency's advice and direction as to 
what would be acceptable to his Majesty, the Grand Vizier, and 
such others where you think it is necessary ; and we shall endea- 
vour to procure it, if possible. 

Your Excellency will see that we desire a Firmaun to con- 
firm our privileges according to Sallabad in all his dominions ; 
unless his Majesty shall, out of his Royal bounty, bestow some 
new favours on us. Your Excellency cannot but know that 
Miliapore " (St Thome) " is a troublesome neighbourhood to us, 
creating always disputes and quarrels, of little advantage to 
the King nor will it ever be more ; which could we obtain, and 
the town of Trivatore on the other side of us, it would make us 
easy and increase the riches of the King's country. 

And whereas the goods we import are generally carried 
to the capital cities of Golconda and Bijapor, etc., which trade 
we should much increase, if there was no custom paid upon 
them between this place a/id those cities ; and that the 
Mettas about us, which of late years have been increased to the 
plague and ruin of trade, were laid aside ; which only find 
employs for some little people, who destroy trade by their vexa- 
tion and extortion, and in the main very much lessen the King's 

And we humbly desire that you would get it inserted in 
a Firmaun that whenever we are so unfortunate as to lose a 
ship in any part of his Majesty's dominions, we shall have the 
liberty to preserve what we can of the wreck, without any 
molestation from the Government ; which is not only practised 
throughout the world, but the inhabitants are generally com- 
manded to assist therein. For it is a great hardship that, after 
the great risk that our people have run of their lives, they shall 
not be at liberty to save what they can of their estates. We 
must own with great thankfulness that this justice have been 
granted us by former purwannas from Khan Bahadur and the 
present Nabob " (Daud Khan) ; " but as it has been formerly 
disputed, it may again, which nothing but the King's gracious 
grant can prevent. 

We extremely want the King's blessing and favours to 
give new life to our trade ; for since your Excellency went 


hence this place has lost nearly three lakks of Pagodas by mis- 
fortune and most by pirates ; so that it has become poor ; and 
nothing can contribute to the retrieving our losses but God's 
blessing, the King's favour, and Your Excellency's continuance 
in assisting of us. 

Here are ships in a few days that will depart for Pegu, 
when we shall write to the King what you advised in your former 
letter, that an Ambassador was coming to him. Khan Bahadur 
always showed himself a friend to our nation ; whose favours 
we cannot but retain with great thankfulness ; so have wrote 
him a letter which comes herewith, and a copy of it for your 
Excellency ; we leave it to your pleasure whether it shall be 
delivered to him. 

If please God we are so fortunate as to be blessed with 
the King's favour, as to obtain his Royal Firmaun, we humbly 
entreat Your Excellency to appoint some able person to see it 
so fully penned as that it may not admit of any dispute from 
Nabobs and Governors, where the same is to be executed. Our 
dependence is entirely on your Excellency's friendship, for which 
we shall be always full of acknowledgments, and heartily wish 
Your Excellency and all your family health and prosperity." 

It would be difficult to set out more clearly and 
concisely than is done in this letter the considerations 
which in the mind of the writer made the enlargement 
of the Company's settlement at Fort St George and 
the reduction of the inland custom duties on English 
goods as desirable in the interests of the Mogul's 
government as they were in those of the English 
traders. It is not likely that the Governor, when 
he indited it, was sanguine enough to imagine that 
the Mogul would at once be willing to give up to him 
St Thome, which had been the headquarters of 
Baud Khan during the late blockade of Fort St 
George, and having on that occasion enjoyed im- 
munity from bombardment by the Governor's shells, 
on account of its Portuguese inhabitants and build- 
ings, might possibly with advantage be so utilised 
again, if necessary. But in dealing with Easterns 
it was so customary to begin with asking for more 
and offering less than was likely to be given or 
accepted, that it would have been contrary to the 

xx] THE MOGUL 343 

immemorial usage of the country if he had not in 
the forefront of his letter asked for something that 
he had no immediate expectation of receiving. Nor 
could any time have been more opportune for making 
the request than now, when the native Governor 
of St Thome was amicably disposed towards him, 
and had been put to great inconvenience by the 
riotous proceedings of the rebellious malcontents 
of the Right Hand Caste, who had swarmed from 
Fort St George into his town, and had with great 
difficulty been persuaded to leave it. After all, 
St Thome was of far greater value to the Company 
than to the Mogul ; and there was no good reason 
why it should not some day be ceded to them, if 
they proved themselves serviceable allies of the 
Imperial Government. A time might come when 
the Mogul, hard pressed for money or other assistance, 
would be prepared to part with it on reasonable 
terms ; and no harm could be done by broaching 
the question of its assignment to the English now. 
With the wishes of the English traders in regard to 
wrecks and the reduction of the inland duties levied 
on their goods the Imperial officials must have been 
familiar, and there was no insuperable reason for 
not acceding to the Governor's requests in either of 
these respects. Nor were there the same grounds for 
hesitating to allow the Governor to expand his 
boundaries on the northern side of Blacktown, by 
the absorption of the adjoining townships, as there 
were for declining to give up St Thome to him. These 
townships he might not unreasonably hope would be 
ceded to him. As a matter of fact he got them 
earlier than might have been expected 1 . For in the 
month following the despatch of his letters to the 
Mogul, hearing that his old friend Baud Khan was 
about to proceed to join Shah Aulum at Golconda 

1 Wheeler 2. 103. 



in the coming contest with Kam Buksh, he very 
judiciously send Daud a present of 200 pagodas. 
Never was money better spent ; for he received in 
return a Perwanna for Trivatore and four other 
adjoining townships, the five being valued at 1500 
pagodas. Subsequently the Mogul's officers at St 
Thome declared that they had been undervalued and 
that their real value was 3000 pagodas, on which 
report Daud Khan ordered the Mogul's books to be 
laid before him. This difficulty seems however to 
have been surmounted by the promptitude with 
which the Governor at once sent 200 pagodas to 
be distributed amongst the native officials who kept 
the records. A month afterwards the following 
entry appears in the Consultation Book : 

" Saturday i6th October. We having large experience that 
it is impossible for us to manage the income of villages, so as 
not to be imposed upon and lose at least half the produce ; to 
prevent which it is agreed this day to let or to rent the five 
villages, lately given the Company by the Nabob, for twelve 
years to Collowat and Vinketty Chetties, at 1200 pagodas per 
annum, to commence from this day ; who are obliged to repair 
all tanks belonging thereto, which have been let run to ruin, 
as customary, by those who have lately been the renters of 
them ; and the Secretary is ordered to draw out a lease for 

It would appear from this entry that in return 
for an expenditure of 400 pagodas of the Company's 
money Governor Pitt not only obtained the five 
townships which he required for the expansion of 
his settlement, but let them a month afterwards on 
a twelve years' lease at an annual rent of 1200 pagodas. 
It is very unlikely that Daud Khan would have 
ventured to cede them to the Company if he had not 
received peremptory orders to do so from the Mogul, 
who was evidently inclined to be most friendly. 
Nor was this the only manifestation of Shah Aulum's 
good-will towards the English. Writing to his son 

xx] THE MOGUL 345 

Robert, the Governor says : " The favours from the 
present Great Mogull are without a president. I had 
two vests from him, and the honour of severall 
letters, and a phirmaund under his greate seale, 
made up in a paper under his privy seale, wherein 
he tenders mee the command of five thousand horse, 
and to have the pay without doeing service. And 
wee of all Europeans were the only favourites : 
the Dutch at the same time were put out of 
Golcunda 1 ." 

The presents he sent home to his son's wife in 
the following year, as appears from another letter 
to his son, in which he writes : " I have sent home 
several things for presents. The parcell in wax cloth 
is for your wife, being King Shaalum's tasheriff to 
me, a coat, sash and girdle and a chint bed for her : 
all are the finest procurable 2 /' In the meanwhile 
he had written to Zoodee Khan the following letter 3 : 

" To Zoodee Khan Lord High Steward of King Shah Aulum's 
Household, January 5th, 1709. 

By your faithful Chobdar Cossac, by whom Your Excel- 
lency sent the Royal Hosbulhookum and Vest and Perwannas I 
now send this humble address, which doubtless you expected 
sooner and had been sent but for the two following reasons. 
Your Excellency enjoining secresy, I was obliged to commit the 
translating of them to some particular friends, which took up 
fourteen days. When fully apprised of the purport thereof, I 
could not but be surprised at your unparallelled expressions of 
friendship and invaluable honours you have done us ; which 
so confounded my thoughts for some days that I almost despaired 
of being able to acknowledge them by my pen or otherwise : but 
then considering what a generous friend I had met with, who 
had been so lavish of his favours to me who had as little power 
as merit to oblige you ; I could no longer refrain from blessing 
my stars, who were so propitious to me as to give me the 
honour of your first acquaintance ; which I esteem the happiest 
fate that had attended me through the whole course of my 
life ; which I shall ever remember, and that posterity may do 
the same, I humbly request that when you come to Golconda, 

1 Dropmore i. 45. 
2 Dropmore i. 42. 3 Wheeler 2. 105. 


you will honour me with sending me your picture ; which I 
will send to England and have copied by the most exquisite 
limner in the world, and order it to be sent to me hither ; besides 
I will erect your effigy finely cut in marble with such an inscrip- 
tion on it that the world may know the author of our happiness 

in these parts Your Excellency writes that there must be 

presents for all the princes and some of the great men. If you 
mean such as are suitable to their birth and qualifications, it is 
impossible for us to purchase them with our Company's estate ; 
who you know are merchants who run great risk to get a little, 
and who often meet with loss instead of gain. We hope as the 
presents we intend are suitable to our circumstances, they will 
meet with a gracious acceptance from the great king and princes ; 
which puts us in mind of what we read in history that upon many 
persons making very rich presents to a king, there happened a poor 
man to come with a drop of water, which was as acceptable as 
any of their presents, being according to his ability." 

The success which had thus far attended his 
diplomatic efforts encouraged the Governor to go 
still further. Within a few weeks after the above 
despatch to Zoodee Khan, Kam Buksh was finally 
defeated and slain ; and as it seemed probable that 
Shah Aulum would return to Golconda, Governor 
Pitt seems to have designed to go there himself 
and enter into personal communications with the 
Mogul, with a view to obtain additional concessions 
and finally cement his friendship. " It was expected/' 
he writes home to his son, " that the King, after hee 
had cutt off his brother Cawne Bux would have stayed 
at least 6 months at Golcunda, when I myselfe pro- 
posed to have went up, though at the expence of 
my life and fortune, to have procured them such an 
establishment as the like had not been to any Euro- 
pean nation for priviledges and profitt ; but the 
King's return to quell an insurrection in the heart of 
his country frustrated that design, and am glad it did, 
for nothing perplexes a man's thoughts more than 
doeing good and faithfull service for an ungratefull 
people, as it has been my case with this Company 1 /' 

1 Dropmore, i. 45. 

xx] THE MOGUL 347 

The projected expedition here referred to would 
undoubtedly have been attended with considerable 
risks, owing to the unsettled state of the country, 
and the possibility that the Mogul, now that he had 
attained the main object, which he seems to have 
had in view in soliciting the services of the English, 
might, if he had once got the Governor into his hands, 
have declined to part with him except on unduly 
onerous conditions. But the Governor, though a 
cautious man, was apparently prepared to face these 
risks, relying on his knowledge of the characters and 
customs of the men with whom he had to deal, of 
which no one could have been a better judge than 
himself. No man was more likely than he was to 
convince the Mogul and his chief officers of the 
increased revenues which they would obtain if the 
inland customs duties were remitted, and of the 
other advantages that might accrue to them if he 
were placed in a position to control the smaller local 
rajahs. If, for example, the 5000 horsemen, the 
command of whom had been placed at his disposal 
by the Mogul, had been disciplined by a few capable 
English officers, he could not only have kept the 
trade routes in that part of India open, but might 
also have been in a position to give the Mogul very 
substantial assistance against the Mahrattas, and 
have anticipated by nearly half a century the pre- 
ponderating influence which his countrymen were 
destined to acquire in India by the employment of 
disciplined native troops. What was however more 
immediately in his mind was the development of 
the Company's trade with Golconda, and more 
particularly the extension of the sale of English 
broadcloth, and other woollen fabrics, the demand 
for which had recently been greatly stimulated by 
the arrival of the Mogul's army at this juncture in 
these parts. The Governor clearly foresaw that this 


demand might be maintained, and possibly increased, 
if only the trade routes could be made secure, and 
the inland customs done away with, or reduced to 
more moderate dimensions. His Parliamentary ex- 
perience must have made familiar to him the pressure 
constantly brought to bear upon the supporters of 
the Company in the House of Commons to induce 
them to increase the export to India of broadcloth 
and other woollen fabrics of English manufacture ; 
and with his knowledge of Indian trade he must have 
realised the difficulty of inducing the Hindu popu- 
lation to buy these goods and the fact that the 
principal purchasers of them were soldiers and 
Mahomedans. Now that there seemed an excep- 
tional opportunity of disposing of them more freely 
than heretofore, he may well have thought it impor- 
tant, whatever the personal risks to himself might be, 
to take advantage of it. And although the sudden 
departure of the Mogul himself from this part of his 
Empire might have delayed any arrangement for 
securing this very desirable object, there can- be 
little doubt that if his Governorship had been pro- 
longed he would have continued to press the question, 
and probably with good results, on the attention of 
his friends, the Mogul's advisers. After he left India 
nothing more seems to have been attempted in this 
direction by his successors. The sales of broadcloth 
and other English fabrics fell off again instead of 
increasing ; and the Court having called on their 
Council at Fort St George for an explanation, received 
the following report 1 dated the I4th of October 1712 : 

' In obedience," the Council write, " to your commands we 
shall lay before your Honours the best account we can get con- 
cerning the Consumption of Broad Cloth and other manufactures 
in the Mogul's dominions. The coarse red and green broad 
cloth is chiefly used among the soldiers and ordinary Moormen 

1 Wheeler 2. 190. 

xx] THE MOGUL 349 

for saddles, saddle cloths, sumpture cloth, covers, beds and 
cushions, for palankeens, carpets to sit upon, mantles to cover 
them from the rain and sometimes covering for their tents of 
pleasure. The fine broad cloth as scarlet, aurora, some blue 
and yellow, is used for the inside of tents for vests or mantles 
in the rainy season among the great men ; covering cloths for 
the Elephants and hackarys cloth to hang round their drums; 
for shoulder and waist Belts, scabbards for their swords and 
Jimdars or daggers; for slippers and for covers, beds and 
pillows and for palankeens. The embossed cloth is used to 
hang round the bottom on the inside of the great men's tents 
three feet high ; for spreadings to sit upon, and cushions to 
lean against ; and for cloths to cover the Elephants and horses. 
Perpetuanos are only used among the meaner sort of people for 
caps, coats, and covering cloths to sleep on during the rains. 

And now that we are upon this subject, we must inform your 
Honours that at least nine tenths of the Woollen manufactures 
vended in these parts is among the Moors ; the Gentoos making 
very little or no use of them. The greatest Consumption is in 
the Mogul's camp, which when at Lahore or Delhi is supplied 
wholly from Surat and Persia, but when at Agra, partly from Surat 
and partly from Bengal by way of Patna, from which ports the 
conveyance to the camp is easy and safe. But what is disposed 
of hereabouts is dispersed among the Nabob's flying armies in 
the Carnatta country, Bijapore, and Golcondah, seldom reaching 
so far as Aurungabad, because the carriage is very chargeable 
and the roads are difficult and dangerous to pass. When King 
Shah Aulum came down with his army in the year 1708 to des- 
troy his brother Kam Buksh, we immediately found a quicker 
vent than ordinary for our broad cloth ; and indeed for all 
other sorts of goo.ds' consumed among them. And when Dawood 
Khan was formerly Nabob of these parts, he always kept a great 
body of horse on pay, which obliged the neighbouring Governors 
to do the same, being always jealous of each other. And amongst 
these horsemen by much the greatest quantity of our broad 
cloth was consumed ; the trade from this place to their camps 
being very considerable. But now our Dewan, who is Subah of 
all this Country, seldom keeps above five hundred horse with 
him ; and the Government in general being grown much weaker 
than in Aurungzebe's time, none of the great men keep up the 
number of horse allowed by the King, but apply the money to 
their own use ; and this has brought a considerable damp upon 
our trade in general, but more especially upon the sale of your 
manufactures. For we have not only lost the camp trade, but 
the roads are become impassable for want of those horsemen to 
scour them as usual ; so that the merchants are discouraged 


from coming down with their money and diamonds to buy up 
and carry away our Europe and other goods as formerly ; and 
we cannot see any likelihood of better times till the Government 
is well settled, and some active man employed in the Government 
of these parts." 

It is clear from this report that the failure to 
persist in Governor Pitt's policy in this matter had 
very soon resulted in a serious diminution of the 
sales of English manufactures in the Carnatic. 

That his Council and the community at Fort St 
George fully appreciated the value of his negotiations 
with the Mogul and the importance of his remaining 
at his post until they were concluded is evident from 
the following entry in the Consultation Book of the 
8th of January 1709 : " This day the Armenians, 
Moors and Gentue Inhabitants of this place, hearing 
that the Governor designed home upon the Litch- 
field, deliver'd in a Petition (as entered after this 
Consultation), requesting that he would stay till 
the business of a Phirman was negotiated with the 
Grand Mogull, And all the Councill urged the same 
which the Governor cou'd nor wou'd not promise to 
comply therewith, but take some days to consider 
thereof, having disposed all his affairs for goeing 
home on the Litchfield." Ultimately he was per- 
suaded to stay on, a decision which he afterwards 
had good reason to regret. Writing to a friend 
(Joseph Martin) ten days after the presentation of 
the petition, he says: "I observe you have laid S r 
Nicholas Waite aside and wish they had done so 
by me too, tho not for the same reasons, and then 
I could have come home as I intended by the Litch- 
feild, having all things prepared for it, but by the 
first ship in September, nothing but death ~ shall 
prevent, having laid aside all trade, and stay till 
then for no other reason but to finish your grand 
affairs with the Emperour 1 ." 

1 Hedges 3. 114. 



DURING his last two years at Fort St George 
Governor Pitt was not so fortunate in maintaining 
amicable relations with some of the members of his 
staff as he was in the conduct of his diplomatic 
negotiations with the Mogul and his chief officers. 
He had, it is true, relieved himself of the burden of 
the presence of his old enemy Fraser at the daily 
consultations in the Council Chamber ; but the 
continued residence of that irritating personage in 
the city, spying on his every action, writing home on 
every opportunity to Gough and Braddyll and in the 
meanwhile making all the mischief he could with 
the natives and any of his former colleagues whom 
he could incite to discontent with the existing 
regime, must have been a constant source of annoy- 
ance. It would be a mistake to suppose that the 
Governor was generally unpopular with his subor- 
dinates. He was no doubt a masterful and rough- 
tongued chief, as was to be expected from his early 
seafaring antecedents. But his bark was worse than 
his bite, and he was a firm and constant supporter 
and friend of those who served him faithfully. There 
is no reason to doubt that the majority of the Com- 
pany's servants at Fort St George would have endorsed 
the opinion formed of him when he first came out 
there, which was expressed by one of them, whom his 
cousin John Pitt had vainly attempted to detach 


from his allegiance and who had written back: 
" Our present Governor is really of himself a very 
good man." In his letters home to the Court he 
had spoken highly of many of them. But several 
of those who knew him best and the great difficulties 
he had surmounted were now dead or absent. 
Francis Ellis, his faithful second in command, had 
died in 1704. Roberts, who had succeeded him, had 
also gone ; and Brabourne, of whom Pitt always 
speaks in his correspondence with appreciation for 
his good qualities, had been for some time away at 
Anjingo, where he was acting as chief of the factory. 
Raworth, who was the son of one of his few friends 
on the Court of the New Company and had been 
second in command of the New Company's settlement 
at Masulipatam, but was now on the Council of Fort 
St George, seems also to have deserved and enjoyed 
his confidence. The same may be said of Gulston 
Addison, the elder brother of the great Joseph 
Addison, who had for some years been one of the 
Council of the fort, and had befriended the widow 
of Consul John Pitt when she came there, in return 
for which she had made him her executor and left 
him a legacy of 3000 pagodas. Addison's friendly 
relations with her had in no way impaired his friend- 
ship with the Governor, who as he has himself said, 
was not a vindictive man. But there were other 
members of the Council with whose shortcomings 
he was only too painfully familiar ; and of these he 
has not failed to unburden his mind freely from time 
to time in his correspondence. One of them was 
Empson. Of this man, in a letter to his son of the 
2ist of January 1708 he writes 1 : " The gth inst. 
Mr. Empson dyed, and noe wiser than he lived : 
noe will nor any manner of accounts. He was a 
wretch, and yet cannot say but he has left many of 

1 Dropmore i. 35. 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 353 

his fellows behind him All the custome he ever 

paid the Company never defrayed the charge of 
bringing the water he drank/' Of late years Pitt 
had impressed on Sir Thomas Cook and other mem- 
bers of the Court the importance of sending out 
better men. In a letter to Cook on the nth of 
September 1706, he had written 1 : 

" Unless you get abler men to manage your affairs here abroad, 
you must unavoidably be ruin'd, for 'tis a rule amongst 'em 
that they must have employs according to their seniority, let 
this qualification be what it will, by which you don't suffer a 
little, now as here in your councill, the greatest place of trust 
is your warehouse keeper, Sea Customer, and Paymaster, now 
when any ignorant, dishonest or raw young fellow in busyness 
(that his own ffather wou'd not trust with a hundred pounds) 
comes into these employs must you not of course suffer by it ? 
'tis true 'tis an ungratefull office for one to Characterize men, 
th6 necessary, and I wonder that you don't pick out some sober 
and discreet man that comes into these parts and knows your 
servants, and take him to your Selves and conjure him by all 
that is Sacred, that he will impartially tell their character to the 

best of what he has heard or seen 1 would beg of you to take 

a view of your Councill here, and consider that if Mr. Roberts 
and I should dye, into whose hands the management of your 
affairs must fall ? " 

Nearly two years before, in a letter to Sir William 
Langhorne, he had written 2 : 

" If ever the Company thrives, they must elect such men as 
are most capable of serving them, and not such as are put upon 
them by importunities and for relation sake. For 'tis to be 
considered your servants are at a great distance, not under 
your eye, to be controul'd and advis'd by you." " Seniority 
certainly is the best and justest Rule for "preferring your Ser- 
vants, but then 'tis very necessary that merrit should goe with 
it ; but those you make judges of it are generally such as have 
noe share in it, th6 soe much cunning as to assist each other 
with their vote." 

Again in a letter to Sir Edmund Harrison he says 3 : 

" Honesty and ability are certainly the only qualifications 
that should recommend persons to your service but if I was under 

1 Hedges 3. 102. 2 Hedges 3. 95 a Hedges 3. 103. 

D. 23 


a necessity to take a Servant that wanted either of 'em, it should 
be the former : for I could call him to an Account, and oblige 
him to satisfaction : but fools that want ability can give none. 

Tis very true what I formerly wrote you that the Old Com- 
pany lost ten times as much by employing fools as they did by 
Knaves, and honest W m " (Fraser^ "with many others I could 
name, may be on the list for both." 

On any list of the Company's servants, who in his 
opinion were thus doubly disqualified, there can be 
little doubt that the Governor without the slightest 
hesitation would have placed a kinsman of Mr 
Nathaniel Herne, one of the members of the Court of 
the Old Company, a Mr Frederick, who had come out 
on the Council of Fort St George, and was fated to 
give him much trouble. Frederick had married a 
daughter of Captain Seaton, who had for many years 
been the chief officer of the garrison, and when 
sober seems to have been a capable and valuable 
officer, though incurably quarrelsome and eccentric. 
Before Governor Pitt came out to Fort St George he 
had been thus referred to in one of the General 
Letters to the Court from the Council: "Among 
several children born here, whose parents send home 
for education in this ship is Ann Seaton, the daughter 
of Lieutenant Seaton, who has served your Honours 
nine years in Bengal and this garrison and is a very 
able and useful officer. He has paid Pagodas twenty 
six permission, as the rest have done, and humbly 
begs your Honours will please to remit it 1 ." Un- 
fortunately about the same time, on the gth of 
August 1695, the following entry occurs in the Con- 
sultation Book: "Last night Lieutenant Seaton at 
about twelve o'clock, being in drink, drew his swoard 
upon the Choultry Guard, and ran a Portuguese 
soldier through the arm. Dr. Bulkley being ordered 
to view the wound, reports that it is not dangerous : 

1 Wheeler i. 297, 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 355 

and Lieutenant Seaton, being sent for, answer was 
brought that he was sick of a fever 1 /' On the ist 
of October 1698, a few weeks after the arrival of 
Governor Pitt at Madras, the following account of a 
quarrel between Seaton and a brother officer appears 
in the Consultation Book : 

" There arising some words this afternoon between Lieutenant 
Sinclair and Lieutenant Seaton, Lieutenant Sinclair came now 
and acquainted the Governor and Council that Lieut. Seaton 
called him coward and struck him. Lieutenant Seaton being 
sent for, and the reason of their difference demanded, answers 
that there did pass some foolish langauge between them, but 
disowns that he did strike Lieut. Sinclair. Mr. Stone and 
Mr. Matthews who were present, being also sent for, were enquired 
of whether they knew the occasion of their difference ; but both 
declared that they only heard some words pass between them 
at the Sea Gate, and that afterwards near the Inner Fort Gate 
they saw some blows past, but know not which struck first." 

On this occasion Seaton was dismissed the service, 
but was afterwards reinstated on petition. This 
was not the first time he had been cashiered and 
taken back again into the service of the Company. 

Again in August 1703 the following entry appears 
in the Consultation Book : " The Governor having 
confined Captain Seaton and Mr. Stratford for going 
out yesterday to the Company's old garden to fight 
a duel, he ordered them to be brought up this day 
before him in Council to examine into the occasion 
of it ; when it was found that Captain Seaton gave 
the challenge without any manner of provocation, 
so that it was resolved that their confinement should 
be continued till we had considered what punish- 
ment we should afflict (sic) on them to deter others 
from doing the like 2 /' They were accordingly kept 
ten days in confinement, at the end of which time 
Seaton was fined 200 and Stratford 50 pagodas. 
Three weeks later Seaton's fine was remitted on his 

i Wheeler i. 339. 2 Wheeler 2. 28. 



expression of contrition for his offence and " in 
consideration of the great charge of his children " 
and his promises " never again to do the like." 

There is no reason to suppose that Pitt had enter- 
tained any personal ill-feeling against Seaton on 
account of these repeated escapades. Like others 
of his fellow countrymen at the fort, he had been 
disposed to overlook the failings of this quarrel- 
some and hard-drinking officer out of consideration 
of his past services and pity for his wife and daughters. 
Frederick was not the only Englishman at Fort 
St George who had married into the Seaton family. 
One of the Governor's own kinsmen, Antony Ettrick, 
from Holt in Dorset, had lately married another 
of the daughters ; and on his behalf the Governor 
had written the following kindly letter home to the 
father of the young man on the iyth of February 
1707 *: 

" I must advise you that your Sone Anthon^ is marry 'd 
which I would have disswaded him but could not prevaile, and 
thought it not convenient rigorously to oppose it, for as I intend 
home speedily I was apprehensive that he might make a worse 
choice after I am gone, as once he was like to doe. The young 
woman he has marry'd is Capt. Seaton's Daughter, whose ffather 
is Captain of one of the Companys of Souldiers in this Garrison. 
He has about a thousand pounds with her, but what is most 
valuable is that She is a vertuous, modest, good-humour 'd, 
comely young woman, and I don't doubt but will make him a good 
Wife, since he was resolv'd to marry in these parts, for she justly 
deserves the Character I give her. Soe to contribute to their 
happiness I should advise you to send him out a couple of 
thousand pounds, or what you can conveniently give him to enable 
him to trade, and something to your other Sone to begin the 
world with, for a mans youth is the only time to drudge in busy- 
ness, and that which would chiefly contribute towards makeing 
it a pleasure is to have good working tools, and that generally 
begets good success. You are my old friend, acquaintance and 
kinsman, who I advise to nothing but what I would doe my 
Selfe. For is it not much better to give our Children something 

1 Hedges 3. 108. 




in our lifetime, to see how they manage it and improve it, then 
to keep it like Curmudgeons, and leave it them at our Death 
because we cant help it ? Soe with my Service to your Selfe, 
Lady and all friends, I am, S r your affecte. kinsman 

and obliged humble Servant, 
Thos. Pitt." 

Within a fortnight after the despatch of this 
letter, Captain Seaton had again misconducted 
himself, as appears from the following entry in the 
Consultation Book 1 : 

" Thursday 27th February 1707. The Governor lays before 
the Council the insolent action of Captain Seaton, who on Sunday 
last marched part of his Company (and had all had not the 
Governor commanded them off) over the Company's calicoes 
that lay a dyeing ; notwithstanding there was much more room 
than enough to have marched the men clear of them as usual. 
And afterwards, when the Governor sent for him to demand his 
reason for doing so base an action, he had the impudence to tell 
him he did not understand it. Upon which when he came for the 
word in the evening, the Governor told him he was suspended till 
he had advised with the Council : for that he thought him not 
fitting to serve the Company any longer, nor would he bear any 
more with his insolences. It is agreed that he stands suspended, 
and that the consideration for breaking him be deferred to 
another time." 

Eventually Seaton lost his commission for this 
offence, and Mr John Roach was appointed captain 
of the garrison in his place. Roach's subsequent 
career amply justified this promotion. For he 
greatly distinguished himself in 1711 in an engage- 
ment at Fort St David, in which he inflicted heavy 
losses on a large body of native troops, who were 
besieging the settlement 2 ; and again in 1717, during 
the Governorship of Mr Joseph Collet, when he 
defeated and drove off the forces of the local Nawab 3 , 
who had seized Trivatore with 250 horse and 1000 
foot and had cut down the Company's flagstaff 

i Wheeler 2. 48. 2 Wheeler 2. 154. 

3 Wheeler 2. 283289. 


there. On the latter occasion the Council passed 
the following resolution : " Agreed that in considera- 
tion of Lieutenant John Roach's former services at 
Fort St David, for which the Honourable Company 
have in their letters ordered him a gratuity, which 
has never yet been given, and also in consideration 
of his eminent service at Trivatore on the igth instant, 
in defeating the enemy, with so much loss on their 
side and without the loss of one man on ours ; that 
the President by his Commission constitute Lieu- 
tenant John Roach, Major of all the Honourable 
Company's forces on the Coast of Coromandel and 
Island of Sumatra ; and that a Gold Medal, with 
the Honourable Company's arms set round with 
diamond sparks, with an inscription on the reverse 
suitable to the occasion (the value about 300 pagodas) 
be given him," and " that his pay as Major be 
20 pagodas per mensem." In after-years, when he 
had grown too old for active military service, Major 
Roach was appointed a Justice of the Peace and one 
of the Council of Fort St George. He returned home 
from India in 1735 by the same ship that brought 
Governor Pitt's cousin, George Morton Pitt, to England 
at the expiration of his Governorship 1 . There can be 
no doubt that the Company benefited by his sub- 
stitution as Commander of Fort St George for Seaton, 
whose intemperate habits must not only have en- 
couraged the soldiers to follow his example, but 
might have seriously endangered the defence of the 
fort in an emergency. But the promotion was an un- 
fortunate one for the Governor. Frederick, Seaton's 
son-in-law, raised in Council an objection to it on the 
ground that Roach had been in France without leave, 
and that he was subject to certain penalties. This 
objection was overruled, and the following insulting 
comment on it was inserted in the Consultation Book 2 : 

1 Wheeler 3. 137. * Wheeler i. 93. 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 359 

" We cannot but think it a severe reflection on us ; the Governor 
and Council here, that we should not be thought by Mr. Frederick 
to be better judges of these matters than himself : and that he 
should be the only person amongst us that is fit to judge of men 
and their capacity, when it is notoriously known by all in this 
place that profound ignorance and pride are his only qualifica- 

As might have been expected, from this time 
forward Frederick and Seaton threw in their lot 
with Eraser ; and the three persistently endeavoured 
to undermine the position of the Governor at Fort 
St George, and to blacken his reputation in England. 

The Court of the United Company took some time 
in coming to a decision on the question of Eraser's 
suspension. Most unfortunately for Pitt, before any 
final conclusion had been arrived at with respect to 
it, Sir Thomas Cook, his firm friend and supporter, 
was struck down on the i6th of October 1708 by an 
apoplectic fit, which incapacitated him from taking 
any further part in the Company's affairs 1 . But for 
this untoward catastrophe, there is good ground for 
believing that the action of the Governor would 
have been supported and the suspension of Eraser 
confirmed by the Court. A year before, Captain 
Harrison had written out to Fort St George 2 : " Our 
good friend Sir Thomas reigns as much as ever, and 
holds more stock than ever. The agitators with him 
are Mr. Moore and Mr. Craggs, the last named being, 
on account of his intimacy with the Duke of Marl- 
borough, as well as his own merits, in high favour 
in the City. Sir Gilbert " (Heathcote) " is Sovereign 
of the New Company and holds great sway in the 
City. The snake in the grass is jealousy of power. 
It is uncertain in which interest authority will 
centre ; and the New Company, being apprehensive 
of defeat at the first election, are anxious to tie down 

.'* Luttrell 6. 362. * Dropmore i. 30. 


their antagonists to as humble terms as possible." 
" Sir Gilbert is your mortal enemy and will omit no 
opportunity to affront you. His party is consider- 
able but unless they rout the Old Company entirely, 
your friends in the New Company are too numerous 
to permit you to be illused." After his apoplectic 
seizure Cook was hopelessly incapacitated (he died 
in the course of the next year) and Sir Gilbert 
Heathcote, Pitt's mortal enemy, reigned in his stead 1 . 
At this juncture, when every vote on the Court of 
the United Company was of the utmost importance, 
nothing could have been more inopportune, or more 
embarrassing to the Governor's friends on the Court 
than his unfortunate quarrel with Frederick. Within 
a month after Cook's illness, Robert Pitt wrote to 
his father 2 : 

" 1708 Nov. 15. London. I seize a fortunate opportunity of 
sending this letter by Captain Arnold to give you an account 
of the intentions of the Company towards you. The grounds 
on which they pretend to lay you aside are the unhappy troubles 
between the casts, and your treatment of Fraser upon that 
occasion, whose party they espouse in the most violent manner. 
The chief incendiary from abroad is Mr. Frederick, who in a 
very long and ingenious manner, has made wonderful complaints 
of your arbitrary proceedings, and ill treatment of him and most 
of the Council. He has written in a like strain to his kinsman, 
Mr. Nathaniel Herne, who I believe, does not stick at animating 
the Old Company, and your old and sure friends against you, 
while Gough and Braddyl are indefatigable in spiriting up the 
New Company. They have not even scrupled to say that the 
Company ought to seize on your person and effects, but that I 
believe they will hardly venture on. Such a violation of the 
property of the subject would properly be laid before the Parlia- 
ment and Queen and Council. The person named to succeed 
you is one Captain Gibbons, brought in by the interest of Mr. 
Craggs and Mr. Moore. I am told he wants" a fortune, and there- 
fore will submit to any terms imposed on him, in order to get 
such an advantageous post for the Company declare that the 
government of Fort St. George is the best employment belonging 

1 Luttrell 6. 486. * Dropmore i. 37. 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 361 

to the English nation. A great deal of this trouble is owing to 
the infirmity of your good friend, Sir Thomas Cooke, who would 
have stopped hostile proceedings, had he not been permanently 
bereft of reason by a fit of apoplexy. I wrote to you last year 
that Mr. Dolben was making interest to succeed you. It is still 
.a general opinion that he is intriguing for your post; but he 
assured me a few days ago that he had no such thought, and 
A-vould not accept the appointment if it were offered to him. He 
is of opinion they will not lay you aside at all, or at least this 
year : and I hope you will put it out of their power to do so 
another year, by coming home immediately after the receipt of 
this letter. The account of Mr. Eraser's seditious behaviour has 
been communicated to every manager of the Old and New Com- 
panies ; but what they most resent is your threatening to whip 
and hang one whom they had named of their Council, as they 
learn from Mr. Frederick's letter, on which they lay great stress. 
I believe Frederick will be promoted on account of his letter. 

My wife intended to have written to you this day, but 
early in the morning was suddenly prevented by the birth of 
another son. We have now two boys and two girls." 

The boy, whose birth was thus announced to 
his grandfather, was William Pitt, the great Lord 

This letter leaves no room for doubt as to the 
mischievous effect of Frederick's complaints to his 
kinsman and the Court of the arbitrary behaviour 
of the Governor to him. Whilst it was on its way 
to India, Pitt himself was complaining of Frederick 
to Cook, to whom he wrote the following letter, in 
ignorance of Cook's illness and its results 1 : 

" Feb. 7th. 1709. 

You shall find in October that I am firm in my Resolution 
of coming home, and nothing but death shall prevent, for as 
you hinted their service now is fitt for none but their Scoundrel 
favourites, and I doubt not but in very little time they'll find 
the effect of itt, and God alone knows the care and trouble I 
have had upon me to preserve the peace and tranquility of this 
place. For had I let loose the reins of Government as your letters 
from time to time have directed, long before this I doe firmly 
believe it had been in such confusion as irretrievable, whereas 

1 Hedges 3. 114. 


now, I may speak it as a truth and without vanity, 'tis the 
Jewell of all European settlements, but how long 'twill continue 

soe I cant say. 

* * * * * 

S r . I would begg you to observe the behaviour of Mr. Frederick, 
who is so prevented by the villainous caball he is in, that he is 
become pernicious to the Company s honour and interest. 

* * * * * 

Now I am writing of this poor mischievous wretch I must not 
omitt to let you know that when we had the trouble about the 
Cast, and that the right hand left us, amongst 'em was those 
that clear the Streets, which was omitted during that trouble, 
so when the Scavenger came to collect the duty many of the 
inhabitants refus'd to pay for that time, which the Scavenger 
acquainted me of, which at first I made light of and order 'd 
him to send his servant again, but afterwards he came and told 
me that they were resolv'd not to pay itt, when I order'd him 
to bring me a list of such persons, which he did, and who 
should be at the head of 'em but this choice servant of yours, 
Frederick, who I imediately sent for and lock'd the door of 
the Consultation, and laid the Key upon the table, and very freely 
told him how I would use mutineers, and begin with him, then 
showed him the list, when he let fall a few penitential tears 
and promised amendment. And by what I found afterwards 
it was an agreement amongst many of 'em, but I cool'd their 

It would seem from the earlier part of this letter 
that the Governor's high-handed proceedings in 
dealing with his recalcitrant subordinates had called 
forth on more than one previous occasion a warning 
note from Cook, which had been disregarded, the 
Governor being firmly persuaded in his own mind that 
any attempt on his part to conciliate his opponents 
on the Council would be productive of the worst 
consequences. It is conceivable that he was right 
in thinking so, having regard to the characters of the 
men with whom he had to deal. But on his own 
showing the enormity of which poor snivelling 
Frederick had been guilty on this occasion when the 
Governor seems to have threatened to whip and hang 
him as a mutineer appears to have consisted merely 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 363 

in his signing in common with others a protest against 
being called upon to pay the scavenger for work 
which had not been done. It is easy to understand 
that Frederick's own version of what took place at 
the painful interview in question aroused the indigna- 
tion of his kinsman Nathaniel Herne, who, though 
a member of the Court of the Old Company, was 
induced by it to go over to the side of the Governor's 

The next letter which Robert Pitt wrote to his 
father, and which is dated the I3th of January 1709, 
shows clearly that this was the case, and that the 
main factors which turned the scale against the 
Governor at this crisis of his career were the untimely 
illness of Cook and the unfortunate quarrel with 
Frederick. It begins as follows 1 : 

" Since I wrote to you last November by Captain Arnold the 
behaviour of the Company towards you has been as surprising 
to every one here as it will be to you abroad. Had it not been 
for Sir Thomas Cooke's illness, they could not have put such an 
affront on you. The main contrivers of it were those I mentioned 
to you in my last, backed up by Sir Gilbert Heathcott. The 
Old Company with the solitary exception of Mr. Nathaniel 
Herne his kinsman, stood fast' to your interest. Mr. Moore 
especially showed as much zeal for you, as Mr. Herne inspired 
by the resentment of his kinsman, Mr. Fredericks, showed against 
you. I doubt not, since they would put an end to your Govern- 
ment, you will be pleased that such a fairminded man as 
Mr. Addison has been appointed to succeed you. The worst 
thing is that the Company should continue that seditious knave 
Eraser in their service, and espouse his tumultuous villainies by 
putting a slur on you. On the other hand your return home is 
necessary for your own comfort and the peace of your family 
which is still notwithstanding all my efforts to the contrary, as 
you will learn from Cousin Pitt, in a distracted state/' 

This letter does not seem to have reached Fort 
St George till the iyth of September 1709, when it 
arrived simultaneously with the official notification 

1 Dropmore i. 40. 


of the Governor's removal from office and the appoint- 
ment of Gulston Addison as his successor. In the 
meanwhile the Governor had been much exercised by 
the proceedings of Captain Seaton, who, now that 
he had been cashiered, had gone so far as to dissemi- 
nate serious libellous statements reflecting on the 
honesty of his late chief. Amongst other things he 
had charged him with selling the post of the Chief 
Dubash for 500 pagodas. This having come to the 
Governor's ears, Seaton was brought to the fort 
from the Mount, where he had lately taken up his 
residence, and confronted with the man whom he 
had thus maligned. A somewhat stormy interview 
was the result, of which the Governor took down the 
following notes : 

" This Evening being the Second of August about 5 o'clock 
I discoursed Capt Seaton in the Consultation Room, when 
haveing charged him with his having said that I had 500 pagodas 
given me to make Poppa Cheif Dubash, which he owned and 
told me I was betrayed in whatever I did, or Speak, by all my 
Servants about me, and that I had not a friend upon all the 
Place, whatever I thought. 

Then I asked him how he durst presume to talk up and 
down of what I bought or sold, and how it was possible for 
him to know anything of it, to which he answered that he had 
so good Intelligence that their was not the least thing done or 
said by me but that he knew, and to convince me desired leave 
to ask me some questions which I permitted him to do, and were 
as follows, whether Mr. Roberts did not write me to request 
that he might be concerned in a great Diamond I had bought ? 
Answered ' false ! ' Whether a person did not come and wish 
me joy of its being sold for 500,000 Dollars ? ' False ! ' 
Whether two persons did not come from the Duan to demand a 
great Diamond, and that I gave one of them at coming n rupees, 
and the other at going away 150 ? ' All false,' only that one 
man came. Upon which I told him I found him a Villain, and 
as I found he had been endeavouring to betray me, doubtless 
he would do the same to the Garrison, so ordered the Captain 
of the guard to confine him in the Ensigns room, none to come 
to him but the Councill 1 ." 

1 Hedges 3. 116. 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 365 

On the following day a Council was called at which 
all the members of the Council, including Gulston 
Addison, Raworth and Frederick, were present. The 
official record of this meeting is as follows: 

" Fort St. George. Wednesday August 3rd 1709. 

At a Consultation. Present Thos. Pitt, Governor and 
President, Wm. Martin, Robt. Raworth, Tho. Frederick, Gulston 
Addison, Richd. Hunt, Hen f y Davenport. 

The Governour this day acquainted the Councill that he 
having lately heard of some Villanous and Scandalous reflec- 
tions that had been made upon him by the Late Lieutenant 
Seaton, who he yesterday sent for from the Mount and Examined 
thereon, who with his usuall impudence everred to him the 
Notorious falsitys, that ever could be thought or imagined, 
upon which, he said, he had confin'd him to the Ensigns Room, 
and had desired that he might be sent for up and examined 
thereto, which accordingly was done : and when he came into the 
Consultation Room before us, without first hearing what the 
Governor had to charge him with, and the reason of his confine- 
ment, he immediately addressed himself to the Councill, Saying, 
Gentlemen of Councill, I am come here to accuse the Governour for 
buying a great Diamond to the Company's prejudice, when the 
Governor answered and told him we would discourse of that 
by and by, and demanded of him whether he had said that he 
had received of Paupa, to make him Chief Dubash, five hundred 
Pagodas, and that Ramapa offered Seaven hundred to be con- 
tinued, which was refused, this he acknowledged to have said, 
but being commanded to prove the same, he answered he had it 
from a black fellow, but could not remember who he was, after 
which the two Dubashes before mentioned declared they never 
gave the Governour a Pagoda, or that he ever asked or hinted 
to them of any such thing, and to this they took the solemnest 
oath in the Pagoda. Then the Governour demanded of him what 
he knew about his buying a Diamond, he answered in Generall 
terms that he knew every perticular of it, when he was com- 
manded to acquaint the Councill with it, which he said he would 
then do, knowing their would be a change of Government this 
month, and therefore what this Governour said to him did not 
signify a farthing, with many such Insolent and Villanous 
expressions, he further said that to his knowledge the Governour 
was betrayed by all his black Servants about him, insomuch 
that he knows everything that was done and said, nay as much 
as in his counting house, and to give an Instance thereof said that 
the great Diamond he had bought was entered in his Books, 


Fol. 64, he farther told us that one Rogers that went home in 
October last for Bombay had carried papers along with him, 
signed by black people, that would do the Governour's business, 
the which Sr Nicholas Wait had got translated and carried home 
with him. 

The Governour also acqiiainted the Councill that he had 
very good reason to suspect that this Seaton was turned Informer 
to the " (native) " Government and held a Correspondence with 
them, and promised in a few days to prove the same, in Expecta- 
tion of which and what the Governour charged him with, and he 
confessed before us, we now unanimously confirm his confine- 
ment, till other means can be considered of, and for what discourse 
passed between the Governour and him yesterday in his Con- 
sultation room, after his coming from the Mount is as entered 
after this Consultation, the truth of which he shall be always 
ready to justify by Oath or otherwise." 

The impudent accusations of corruption brought 
against him by Seaton at these two interviews can 
have given the Governor little concern. But the 
reference by Seaton to his purchase of the great 
diamond was a far more serious matter. More than 
seven years had now passed since that famous jewel 
had left India, and during the greater part of that 
time the Governor had good reason to believe that 
little that was certain about that transaction was 
known to his staff. But in London its existence 
was now an open secret, and the Governor had been 
warned more than a year before that Gough and 
Braddyll were plotting to create trouble about it on 
the ground that the sending of it home was an offence 
against the Mogul's laws. In reply he had written 
to his son on the ist of October 1708 1 : " I observe 
what danger you say my grand affair is in : sure there 
cannot be so much villany in mankind as you suggest 
of those two. That law of the Mogul's extends only 
to his own subjects, and if such a thing should be 
broached, I know not where it will end, and it may 
chance to be an utter extirpation of the trade, at 

1 Dropmore i. 36. 

xxi] FORT ST GEORGE 367 

least that of diamonds ; for if I am to be undone I 
will undoe the world if I can. Our nation, I am 
certaine, will not countenance such an unparaleld 
villany. It is against the law of Spaine to bring 
any dollars out of the country, but you see what 
comes/' From the last paragraph of the above 
official report in the Consultation Book it would 
seem that he had now obtained some definite evidence 
that Seaton was in correspondence with the Mogul's 
Government to induce them to demand the return 
of the great diamond. How far Seaton was acting 
in collusion with Fraser and Frederick in this matter 
seems uncertain. That the Governor himself had no 
doubt that the three were acting in concert is clear 
from a letter which he wrote to his son in the following 
May from Bergen, in which he says: " In June last 
they fell a contriveing to stir up the Government to 
give trouble upon account of a great diamond they 
had heard I had bought. The first fellow they put 
upon it was Seaton 1 ." But that Frederick at any 
rate did not dare to support Seaton when the latter 
was brought to book is clear from the next report in 
the Consultation Book, which he signed, though the 
Governor tells us it was " with teares in his eyes 2 ." 
That report was as follows. 

" Consultation nth August 1709. " This day Lewtenant 
Seaton was brought up again before us when the Governour 
told him that since there was no yet changed Government, It 
was high time to make him know there was some, and read to 
him what he had said to him on the 2nd Instant in the Con- 
sultation Room and what he said the next day there, before 
the Governour and Councill and demanded of him to prove the 
same, instead thereof he impudently denyed all he had said in 
private to the Governour and Councill, with strange imprecations 
and asseverations of Gods Vengeance upon him if ever he had 
said it, this from any other man in the world would have amazed 
us all, but by the many years Experience we have had of 
him, we are entirely satisfied that he is a person capable of 

* Dropmore i. 46. 2 Hedges 3. 117. 


perpetrating any villiany that can be named, the Governour also 
produced two Letters, one from Mr. Raworth and the other from 
Mr. Coppin, both proving what (by) the Governour in private and 
before the Councill Seaton was charged with and a great deal 
more, which Letters were now read, and the persons present 
that wrote them, who was ready to tender their oaths to the 
truth, yet nevertheless he denyed all as before mentioned, both 
which Letters likewise prove his having been tampering and 
corresponding with the Government, and many other vile Actions 
which Letters remain in the Governours hands to prove the 
same when ever there is an occasion, so we demanded him whether 
he had anything more to say, to which he answered that he had 
not, and as he withdrew denyed again all he was charged with. 
. . . There is no ill action can be named but what we beleive he 
has been Guilty of, as well as what now charged with, and that 
he has been many years the Plague, Pest and Disturber of 
the Peace of the Place, and now to compleat his Villainy aims 
at nothing than the betraying of the Governour and trade of 
the place. . .'tis unanimously agreed that he be confined till the 
First Ship goes for England and in her to be sent home a Prisoner 
to the Company." 

The days of his official life were numbered ; but 
nothing could testify more convincingly than these 
entries in the Consultation Book that Thomas Pitt 
held on to the end to the resolution, which he had 
expressed ten years before to his cousin, the Consul, 
" There shall be but one Governor whilst I am here/* 



THOMAS PITT'S official life as Governor of Fort 
St George came to a sudden end on Sunday morning, 
the I7th of September 1709. The day before he 
had written to his son Robert : " We expect Captain 
Harrison here in December from Bengal, when I am 
resolved to enbark with him 1 /' Harrison, who was 
an old friend and favourite and one of his most 
constant correspondents, had written to him two 
years previously : "I hope my ship will have the 
honour of carrying you home 2 /' In the course of 
the afternoon, a vessel which subsequently proved 
to be the Heathcote, named after the Governor's 
mortal enemy, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, was descried 
approaching the port from the northward. Soon 
after dark her commander, Captain Tolson, came 
on shore, and had an interview with the Governor, to 
whom he handed the Company's packet, at the same 
time telling him that there were great alterations ; 
that he was dismissed the Company's service, and 
that a meeting of the Council ought to be called at 
once 3 . The Governor informed him that this was 
impossible, not only by reason of the lateness of 
the hour, but also because several of the members of 
the Council were away at the Mount. He directed 
Captain Tolson to observe particularly the condition 

1 Dropmore i. 42. * Dropmore i. 30. 

8 Hedges 3. 119. 

D. 24 


in which the packet had been delivered to him, and 
to be at the Fort by eight o'clock on the following 
morning, so that he might be able to testify that it 
had not been tampered with. At eight o'clock on 
the Sunday morning the Council met, and their 
proceedings are thus recorded in the Consultation 
Book : " The Governour refus'd to surrender the 
Goverment by virtue of the Superscription on the 
Packett,but demanded a Superceedent to his Commis- 
sion by Vertue of which he had been Governour of 
this Place upwards of eleven years, so after some 
hesitation the Packett was opened, wherein there 
was a Commission that Superceeded his ; he also 
demanded the reading of the Generall letter, which 
was refused him ; but in the Packet their being a 
Letter from the Managers to him, wherein 'twas fully 
expressed his dismission from their Service, and the 
Constituteing Gulston Addison Esqr. in his room, 
he immediately read the Cash, and tendered the 
Ballance thereof, being one thousand nine hundred 
and thirty five Rupees, twenty fanams and three 
Cash : but the New Governour desir'd the payment 
for that time might be deferr'd for that he was very 
much indispos'd, so the Governour Just as he left 
the Chair challenged the whole board, or any upon 
the place to charge him with an unjust action dureing 
the whole time of his Goverment, or that he had 
ever refused a kindness to any one that asked it, 
and that it lay in his power, or that he had ever 
acted arbitrary in any one matter, notwithstanding 
some villians of this place have had the Impudence 
to represent him otherwise, so rose out of the chair 
and placed the New Governour in it" a very charac- 
teristic retirement from his office. 

The superscription to the Company's packet, 
which he had very properly declined to regard as of 
itself superseding his own formal Commission as 


Governor was " To the Honble Gulston Addison 
Esqr. President, Messrs Eraser, Mountague, Martin, 
Raworth, Frederick, Hunt, Bulkley and Jennings, at 
Fort St. George." The letter from the Court of 
Managers, which was delivered to him on the opening 
of the packet, was dated the 28th of January 1709, 
and was as follows : 


You having for some time past intimated to us your desire 
to return to England, we have granted your request, and have 
appointed Mr. Gulston Addison to be President and Governour of 
Fort St. George, and in Case of his death or absence, that Mr. 
John Brabourne succeed thereto, and settled the Council as 
appears by our generall Letter and Commission now sent by these 
Ships, and by said Letter have directed that you do immediately 
Surrender the Government to the Succeeding President, and all 
Books, Papers, Effects and other things belonging to us .... 
That when you desire to take passage on any of our Ships who 
shall be bound for England, the President and Council are 
order'd to direct the Commander to receive you on board with 
your necessaryes, To Allow you the Great Cabin, and give 
respect on the voyage Suitable to the Character you have born 
in our Service. ...... 

All which we acquaint you with in order to your Com- 
plyance, we are 

Your Loving Friends &c." 

This letter from his loving friends, the Board of 
Managers, was perhaps as unobjectionable as could 
reasonably have been expected in the circumstances. 
It contained, it is true, no such expression of regret 
for the loss of his long and eminent services as it 
would undoubtedly have done if his firm friend Sir 
Thomas Cook had remained Governor of the Company. 
But there was no reason to complain of its actual 
contents. It was undoubtedly the case that he had 
repeatedly expressed to the Court his desire and 
intention of returning to England ; and he could 
not well now find fault with them for having at 
last acceded to his wishes, and appointed another 
Governor in his place. As a matter of fact, as we have 

24 2 


seen, he had on the day before he received this an- 
nouncement, written to his son acquainting him of 
his deliberate intention to leave Fort St George that 
December. Nor had he any reason to object to 
either of the two men selected to succeed him. 
Writing of Addison a few days later 'to his son, he 
says: " I think they have made a very good choice 
in him for Governor 1 /' And he had always written 
and thought highly of Brabourne. But the general 
letter of the Court, the reading of which had very 
properly been refused him at the Council meeting, 
seeing that he was no longer in office, was a very 
different document. No useful purpose could have 
been served by granting his request ; and it was 
perhaps fortunate in the interests of the harmony 
of the proceedings at the last Consultation at the 
Fort at which he was present, that he was spared 
the indignity of hearing it read, though he seems to 
have been afterwards permitted, by the courtesy 
of his successor, to peruse it at leisure in private. 
It contained a great deal that was calculated to 
rouse the indignation of a far more patient man than 
he could claim to be. It was in fact a grossly unfair 
and insulting document, not only announcing the 
removal of Eraser's suspension and his reinstatement 
as a member of the Council, but also containing some 
very serious reflections on his own lack of ability and 
diligence, and attributing to him the whole blame for 
the quarrel between the two castes. 

" The charge against Mr. Fraser," the Managers say in it, 
" we have considered, and would hope that no Englishman, 
especially none of our servants, would be guilty of such perni- 
cious practices, which strike at the root of the well being of the 
place ; and are more inclined to this opinion, because we find 
in the consultation of the 22nd August, that the Council were 
generally unwilling to suspend him, which we cannot think they 
would be if they apprehended he was justly taxed : and that it 

1 Hedges 3. 120. 


was Mr. Pitt's solemn averring that he would sit no more with 
him that prevailed with them. We have therefore reinstated 
him, as thinking it not fit to give so much countenance to any 
Governor whatsoever, as to approve his single opinion, agains' 
all the rest of the Council, in a case of this nature, which if it 
was true does not appear to us to have been proved ; though 
we shall always lodge a power in our President and Council to 
suspend any of the Council, or other subordinates, when they 
have or think they have a just reason ; and if it be of great 
crimes they are charged with that deserve confinement we shall 
approve it 1 ." 

The Council, it may be remembered, on the 22nd 
of August were generally unwilling to suspend Eraser 
on the evidence then before them. Day by day 
from that time forward the evidence against him had 
accumulated ; and by the i6th of September no 
member of the Council seems to have entertained the 
slightest doubt of his treachery. For on that day 
they one and all agreed to inflict on him a far more 
serious and degrading punishment than suspension ; 
and unanimously resolved that he should be placed 
in close confinement in the Fort, under the guard 
of a sentinel, and that no one should be allowed 
access to him. From that time onward the position 
steadily improved ; and the Governor had no serious 
difficulty in inducing the rebels to return. The 
utmost, therefore, that could be deduced from the 
reluctance of some of his colleagues to suspend Fraser 
on the 22nd of August was that they regarded his 
suspension on that day as premature ; whilst his 
subsequent conduct and the proceedings of the mob 
convinced them that they had been wrong and the 
Governor right in treating Fraser as a traitor. The 
Managers themselves had not long to wait before 
Fraser gave them good reason bitterly to regret the 
course which they had taken in reinstating him. 
The Governor probably was not far wrong in the 

1 Wheeler 2. 59. 


explanation of their conduct which he suggested to his 
son Robert, that Eraser had been kept in to serve 
the turn of some of the Managers as infamous as 
himself 1 . 

But if the reinstatement of Eraser was unjustifi- 
able, still more so were the reflections which the 
Managers in their general letter had found it con- 
venient to cast on the ability and diligence of their 
late Governor, who had not only served them 
faithfully far longer than any of his predecessors had 
done, but had also been unquestionably the ablest 
and most diligent servant the Company had ever 
possessed, whose knowledge of India and "the charac- 
ter^stics of its inhabitants and rulers was unrivalled, 
and whose successes in India had been unprecedented 
throughout the whole of his career. The direct 
cause of the outbreak of the quarrel between the 
Right and Left Hand Castes was the carrying out 
by him of the directions of the Managers themselves 
with respect to the contracts for the sale and purchase 
of the Company's goods, and the breaking down of 
the monopoly that had been so injurious to the 
Company's trade. This he had effected without 
the employment of any violence, or the permanent 
loss of a single native inhabitant of the settlement. 
In the face of these undoubted facts, the following 
passages in the Managers' general letter 2 , are to say 
the least, even more indefensible than their rein- 
statement of Eraser : 

" Without entering," they wrote, " into a particular detail 
of the matter, we say in general, that the generality of men in 
all countries are naturally disposed to be at ease and live peace- 
ably, if they have a quiet possession of liberty and property ; 
and the most turbulent spirits will in a good measure lie still 
unless they have a specious handle given them on account of 
hardships done or offered to be done them. Nor does it appear 
probable to us that either of the two Castes would have ventured 

1 Hedges 3. 120. 2 Wheeler 2. 83. 


to fly in the face of Government, which is or should be power, 
without a real or apprehended great provocation ; nor can we 
think that the Right Hand Caste would have carried things to 
this extremity on the single quarrel of the Left Hand Caste 
making a wedding in their own streets. It seems to us that the 
seeds of discord lay deeper, and that things growing ripe for a 
rupture, this handle was taken to begin the quarrel and set 
fire to the fuel that was before preparing for it. We should have 
esteemed it a praiseworthy management in our President and 
Council to have foreseen and prevented this mutinous disposition 
before it broke out, or at least to have quenched it when it first 
began to flame. 

Nothing does better bespeak the ability and diligence of 
Governors than keeping their subjects and dependents in quiet ; 
and they can never do that without an impartial administration 
of justice to all under them ; for whether they themselves, or 
others by their authority or connivance, oppress or injure the 
subject, it comes to all one in the upshot ; that is to say, first 
the people secretly murmur and complain, then they break out 
into more open reproaches, and at last into downright mutinies 
and rebellions ; and this seems to us to be the true reason why 
those scurrilous papers were fastened upon the Stones set up, 
and afterwards on the walls of the town ; whereas the Wise 
Man's remark will be found to be eternally true ' That the Throne 
can only be established in righteousness.' 

It was very surprising to us to read that so many of the 
handicrafts and other useful hands, went away on this quarrel ; 
and gave us but ordinary apprehensions of the conduct of the 
then administration. Surely they were too valuable to be 
parted with without the last extremity. All nations and times 
have agreed in this, that useful people are the riches as well 
as the strength of a city or country ; and although we readily 
agree that neither the one nor the other Caste are over honest, 
or will scruple laying hold of any handle for their own benefit ; yet 
it seems plain to us there must be something more than ordinary 
at the bottom that should make the Right Hand Caste go away 
in general in a body ; and that the heads of them consent to be 
at the charge of maintaining the handicrafts people at St. Thome. 

On the whole matter we heartily recommend to you all to 
endeavour in your stations to prevent such like quarrels in 
future : and to that end to take care the established ancient 
privileges of both Castes be preserved to them, and the like 
to all other the inhabitants ; and that all of them have the free 
possession of their liberty and property ; that justice be ad- 
ministered equally and impartially and no real cause given 
of discontent ; and then if you find any makebates that would 


be putting the people into a ferment, make them public examples, 
as their faults deserve, and remember in such cases ' too much 
pity spoils a city.' 

The cant of this protracted homily is as con- 
spicuous as its inconsistency. " Makebates that 
would be putting the people into a ferment are/' the 
Managers say, " to be made public examples, as their 
faults deserve." But Fraser, who during three succes- 
sive Governorships had been the most notorious make- 
bate, and who had at last succeeded in creating the 
most serious ferment of the people recorded in the 
history of the city, was rewarded by the Managers 
by being reinstated ; whilst the Governor who had 
ventured to make a public example of him was dis- 
missed in ignominy from the Company's service for 
doing so. 

Gulston Addison, the new Governor, seems to 
have had no sympathy whatever with Fraser and 
his party, who for some time past had been plotting 
at the Mount with Seaton, at whose house they had 
been in the habit of meeting twice a week 1 . Pitt 
says: "Some of them had been often heard to say 
that they were sure they had enough against mee 
to take my life, but believed the forfeiting of my 
estate might save mee." He adds : " I charged 
Frederick with it in Consultation, who denied his being 
concerned, but owned he had heard of such a thing, 
when I told him it behoved him as one of the Council! 
to have acquainted the Board therewith, to which 
wee had his usual answer, fell a crying, which con- 
fermed his guilt." The appointment of Addison as 
Governor over the head of his senior, Fraser, of which 
they seem to have had earlier intimation than Pitt 
or Addison, must have been a sore disappointment 
to these conspirators ; but it does not seem to have 
deterred them from continuing their intrigues to 

1 Dropmore i. 44, 45. 


damage the late Governor's reputation, or from 
trying to stir up the Right Hand Caste against his 
successor, if we may judge from the following passages 
in a letter written by Pitt to his son Robert re- 
porting their proceedings and the untimely death of 

" Mr. Addison," he writes, " before the ship's arrivall had 
bin a little indisposed with the gout or rumatisme in his knee, 
but not soe much as to lye by it ; but this sudden news and 
weight of business made him a little limp, but againe recovered 
soe as to sett to business ; but at the first consultation held 
Fraser was summoned, took his place and when they broke up 
was followed by a great traine of the right hand cast to his 
house, giveing out that the Company had left that matter to 
him solely to bee settled ; which incouraged them the next day to 
drop a cajan, the purport being to stirr up the people to a second 
insurrection. The Governor ordered it to bee burned and sent 
for the heads of the casts, and told them he was soe well satis- 
fyed with my settling that matter that if any of them dare to 
give trouble he would leave them to the mercy of the souldiers." 

" On the arrivall of the ships there was a report that Fraser, 
Frederick and Company had wrote to their correspondents in 
England (who I believe to bee of the same stamp for honour 
and honesty) that if they would turne mee out immediately on 
the ship's arrivall they would procure a thousand petitions 
against mee : which I believe true, for they went about and 
would have suborned severall people but could not procure one. 

But at last they perswaded Surapa to justifye a paper, 

which they carryed before the Governour and Councill : but 
that old villaine was soe terrifyed with remorse of conscience 
that he fell a trembling and denyed it all, when they sent him 
to the pagodoe with a bramine accused in that paper, where 
they most solemnly swore all was false and the Governor him- 
self knew that it was soe, and soe exploded the villany that he 
told mee hee would imprisone the old villaine for his life, and 
afterwards the wretch himself [told] mee that those two before- 
mentioned promised him that if hee would sweare anything 
against mee, they had order from the Company to bring him 

into greater esteem than ever hee was in that place ... The 

paper mentioned comes inclosed in this and what is most 

materiall I believe had its birth in England After all which 

before mentioned and that Governor Addison (had) declared hee 
would walke in my steps, hee fell ill againe, and when I visited 
him, as he desired I would doe as often as I could, hee told mee 


his resentments against Fraser about the casts, and said by what 
hee had seen and heard since the arrivall of the ships (smiting 
his breast) that hee believed in his conscience hee was at the 
bottom of that confusion, and wished the right hand cast had not 
given him something to make room for Fraser, for that he found 
such a disorder in his stomach that in his life time hee never 
had the like. I was soe concerned at this that I imparted it to 
severall people as soon as I came from him, and the thought of 
it made mee uneasye all that night, for that I had left him one of 
my attorneys, besides the doubt I had upon mee for the wellfare 
of the place. This poor man, a few days after, dyed, and in 
such confusion and agonyes that I have not scene the like, which 
was October 17, when I was ready to imbarque on the Heath- 
cotte, but deferd itt for his bury all, and came off October 21." 

Meanwhile Fraser had opportunely left the Fort, 
to take up his Deputy-Governorship at Fort St 
David, where he had got into trouble during the 
first year of Pitt's Governorship. The circumstances 
of Addison's tragic death, happening as it did so 
soon after the announcement of his intention to 
follow in his predecessor's footsteps and his threats 
to imprison Surapa for life, and to employ the soldiery 
against the rebels, give some colour to the suspicion 
which Pitt entertained that he had been poisoned by 
or on behalf of the Right Hand Caste. The advan- 
tages which that caste were likely to gain by his 
removal at this juncture were greatly enhanced by 
the uncertainty that was beginning to prevail,whether 
Brabourne, who had been nominated by the Managers 
as his successor, was still in the land of the living. 
On the other hand it is only fair to remember that 
Addison was already ill when the news of his appoint- 
ment as Governor had arrived at the Fort, and it is 
by no means unlikely that he succumbed to that 
illness. His death, to whatever cause it was due, 
was most opportune for Fraser and most unfortunate 
for the Company. For Brabourne had gone down in 
the Chambers frigate ; and Fraser became Governor 
of Fort St George. 


Thus at a most critical time three very unexpected 
deaths had occurred, productive of disastrous conse- 
quences to the interests of the English trade in India : 
Cook's, which had led to Pitt's dismissal from the 
Company's service, and those of the two men who 
had been nominated to succeed him. It is incredible 
that the Managers, with their experience of Eraser's 
antecedents and character, would have dreamt of 
appointing him Governor of Fort St George or that 
they would have taken him back into their service 
if they had foreseen that one result of their doing 
so would be that he would come into the supreme 
command of their affairs in the East. But they had 
only themselves to thank for that misfortune. When 
Pitt left the Fort, Brabourne's death was appre- 
hended, but not known for certain. " In the only 
too probable event/' he wrote 1 , " of Mr. Brabourne, 
on the Chambers frigate, having been lost at sea, 
the government of that coast devolves upon that 
wicked and vilest of wretches, Fraser, whose infamous 
principles and ignorance will ruine it for ever. 
I delivered it up in the most flourishing state that 
ever any place of the world was in, vastly rich not- 
withstanding our great losses, and famous throughout 
all those parts of the world for our honourable and 
just dealings ; free from all manner of tyranny, 
extortion oppression or corruption as to mee (I 
wish I could averr the same of others) which I sup- 
pressed as far as it was in my power, and prevented 
its being very burdensome to the commonalty ; which 
occasioned the clamours of those few, who are the 
scum and scorne of the place, yet supported by their 
correspondents in England, who study to promote 
their private interest at the hasard of sacrificing that 
of all the adventurers. This is demonstrable by 
their last yeare's generall letter, of which I had 

1 Dropmore i. 44. 


the perusall, when I admired as much the weakness 
of their management as I did at their mallice and false 
suggestions of mee. I shall give but few instances 
here of the flourishing condition of Maderass. In 
May or June last there was at one time fifty sayle 
of ships in the roade, besides small craft at least 
200 : the revenues of last yeare amounting to between 
70 and 800,000 " (? 80,000) ' pagodas, of which 
above 10,000 arises out of the Mint. The place, 
when I left it, was not onely admired but in favour 
of all the kings and princes in those parts ; a regular 
and peaceable government within our selves, and 
continued friendship of all about us. I brought the 
trade of the King of Siam to our port, and sent them 
away soe well satisfyed that I believe they will 
return and settle a factory, which may probably 
open a trade for Japan/' And he goes on to enu- 
merate the unprecedented favours which had recently 
been received by him and the Company from the 
Great Mogul, to which reference has already been 
made in Chapter XX. 

It is impossible not to sympathise with his feelings 
in leaving in the charge of such a man as Eraser 
this " Jewell of all European settlements," as he had 
fondly termed it in his last letter to Sir Thomas Cook. 
He had written home three years before that nothing 
should prevent him from returning to England, but 
the death of Aurungzeb 1 ; and that if that happened, 
he could not in honour allow the government to fall 
into the hands of Eraser and his party. Now the 
negotiations with Aurungzeb 's successor, Shah Aulum, 
and his ministers were proceeding far more favourably 
than he could himself have possibly anticipated. 
But they were not completed ; and no one could 
have realised more fully than he did the danger 
of leaving them uncompleted in the hands of so 

1 Dropmore i. 18. 


incompetent a successor. His gloomy forebodings 
were only too soon justified. Of the long list of 
merchant Governors of the fort, Eraser seems to 
have been the most incapable. He was an absolutely 
hopeless President. The insults and indignities to 
which he was promptly subjected not only by the 
Mogul's chief officers, but also by the Nawab Sada- 
tulla Khan and every petty ruler in the Carnatic, 
were a striking contrast to" the respect which they 
had one and all paid to his predecessor. In the 
first few weeks of his Governorship he was able to 
report to the Court the receipt of further concessions 
from Sadatulla Khan, who had succeeded Baud 
Khan, and had probably not yet heard of Pitt's 
departure. In reply the Court wrote to him : " This 
we take to be the effect of your good conduct, and 
President Pitt's influence with the great men ; and 
shall be glad you, our present President and Council 
will follow in the same steps, which is now so much 
the easier because the path is ready trodden 1 ." Easy 
as it might seem to these gentlemen in Leadenhall 
Street to follow in Pitt's footsteps, poor Eraser found 
it as impossible a task as Penelope's suitors did the 
bending of the bow of Ulysses. Within a very short 
time he got into trouble at Vizagapatam, where two 
native rulers proceeded to besiege the Company's 
factory. The following extracts from the Court's 
letter^ of the following year disclose very clearly 
Eraser's incompetence and lack of foresight in this 
affair : 

" First we observe that the Chief has strangely erred in his 
politics (not to say worse) ; that he having by his former frequent 
letters advised us what he had then foreseen, as what might be the 
result and issue of not paying Mr. Holcombe's old debt to Fuckerla 
Khan, as the event now proves, that the Chief in that case 
should not have sooner and earlier got sufficiency of provisions 

i Hedges 3. 123. 2 Wheeler 2. 137. 


for the use of their Garrison, at least until the monsoon should 
serve for our sending them supplies hence." 

" Secondly, That the Chief should supply Nabob Habib Khan 
and Fuckerla Khan with so large a quantity of gunpowder and 
lead, when the said Nabobs and Chief were on so precarious 
terms ; and not only so, but by their genaral letter of the 
27th July last write us to send them 30 Candy of Powder and 20 
Candy of lead for a further supply to the said Nabobs, not- 
withstanding the frequent cautions we gave them, or without 
considering that they were strengthening the hands of the said 
Nabobs, who were then contriving of the means and ways of 
laying that siege, they have since formed against the Factory." 

" Thirdly. It being now the Northerly monsoon, it is 
strange that the Chief should not have wrote to Bengal to the 
President and Council there to be supplied with whatever they 

This misfortune was soon followed by others. 
Serope Singh, the Rajah of Gingi, waylaid and 
detained as prisoners two of the officers of the Com- 
pany's slender garrison of Fort St David, and treated 
them with great barbarity. The only action taken by 
Eraser on this outrage seems to have been to send 
Serope a present of 200 pagodas. On this occasion the 
Court's comment was as follows : "We don't at all like 
the Account given us in your soth and 5ist Paragraphs 
about Rajah Syrrup Sing's detaining Lievtenant 
Hugonin and Ensign Ray, and a present of Two 
Hundred Pagodas given for their releasement, which 
tho taken the men are where they were. Had the 
like case happen'd in the late President's time, he 
would have recover'd them both at a tenth part of 
the Money, or rather the Rajah would never have 
dared to attempt the surprising of them 1 ." 

Damaging as both these mishaps must have been 
to the English prestige in the Carnatic, they were 
insignificant as compared with the liberties which 
Sadatulla Khan next proceeded to take with the 
new Governor. Sadatulla was a far less formidable 

1 Hedges 3. 122. 


antagonist than Baud Khan, Pitt's old enemy. 
He had greatly reduced his military expenditure * 
and was contented with a far smaller force than 
Daud had kept up 1 . In all he seldom had more than 
500 horse under his command ; and his example in 
this respect had been followed by the petty chiefs 
in the neighbourhood. Notwithstanding this he 
had the audacity to send an impertinent direction 
to Eraser, ordering him to give up not only the five 
outlying villages lately ceded to the Company by 
Daud and the Mogul, but also the three townships 
of Egmore, Tandore and Pursewaukum, which had 
been granted to the Company years before during 
the Presidency of Governor Yale, and had ever since 
remained in the undisputed possession of the Com- 
pany. It is not difficult to imagine the contempt 
with which this preposterous command would have 
been treated by Pitt, who was the last man in the 
world likely to let go anything he had once laid his 
hand upon. Eraser's reply to it was a rambling 
argumentative letter 2 , mainly devoted to an exposure 
of the private affairs of a native, whom he calls 
Yeavellapa, whom he seems to have regarded as 
having been the author of this mischief, and whom 
he denounces as " that plague of the poor and 
cockatrice of all venom." ' Yeavellapa," he says, 
" deals treacherously with Madras, a place that ~he 
is so much beholden to, where he stores up so much 
paddy and grain to await a scarce and dear season, 
to increase the misery of the poor : and borrows 
large sums of money at the same time to pay his 
rent at the time due, else he must have been necessi- 
tated to sell at the market price." This charge, 
calculated to raise the astute dealer in question in 
the estimation of Sadatulla rather than to injure 
him, was accompanied by an appeal to the Nawab 

1 Wheeler 2. 191, 192 Wheeler 2. 129 131. 


"to do nothing misbecoming so wise a man in so 
great a post/' and an expression of Eraser's earnest 
hope that his opponent " will keep the King's peace 
by not committing any manner of hostility " ; and 
" then you and I," he says, " may come to have a 
better understanding at least till I hear from the 
Great Zulfikar Khan to whom I am now going to 
write, and have his answer." The only answer 
vouchsafed to this humble appeal was a curt order 
from Zulfikar Khan to give all the villages up, which 
appears to have been complied with without any 
effort to retain them. This last exhibition of Eraser's 
impotence seems to have been too much for the 
Court, and he was promptly superseded. Had he 
remained any longer in office, his next step might 
possibly have been to surrender the fort itself. 

Misfortunes seldom come singly. Within a few 
days after Pitt's departure from Fort St George the 
news reached him of the death of Mr Ralph Sheldon, 
the President of the Bengal Council, who had been 
appointed to that post on his recommendation. 
'Tis certaine," he had written to Raworth in Sep- 
tember 1707, " your affairs have suffered in Bengali 
for want of a President. Mr. Hedges has been and 
is now with you. I had airways an esteem for him : 
but to deale impartiall in the matter and have no 
other in my eye than the good of the trade, I must 
be for Mr. Sheldon, for there is no comparison to be 
made between 'em for that employ 1 ." 

After Addison's funeral there was nothing to 
keep the ex-Governor at Fort St George any longer. 
It must have been pain and grief to him to remain a 
private resident amongst the men over whom he had 
ruled so long and so absolutely. In anticipation of 
his departure, he had wound up his own private 
trade some years before. Robert Pitt had been 

1 Hedges 3. 112. 


conveyed home on a ship, the Loyal Cooke, bearing 
the name of his father's firmest friend. His father 
had now to go on board of another ship, named after 
his mortal enemy. He came off with his belongings 
on the 2ist of October, leaving Mr Edward Montague, 
Eraser's second in command, acting temporarily as 
President, in the absence of Eraser at Fort St David. 
Montague, anxious to get rid of the troublesome 
Seaton, decided to send him home a prisoner on board 
the Heathcote. Seaton, however, refused to leave his 
house, and had to be removed by a file of soldiers 
under the command of Ensign Dixon. 

Captain Tolson apparently by no means relished 
the prospect of having two such explosive gentlemen 
as Pitt and Seaton as his passengers during his long 
voyage home, and found a very simple way out of 
the difficulty, which resulted in Seaton's remaining 
behind at Fort St George. The following is the 
account of the episode given by the Ensign to the 
Council : 

" According to orders I carried your prisoner Captain Seaton 
alongside of the Ship ' Heathcote/ and laying there some 
time I found no person appear to hand us a rope or any to assist 
us. Then I went on board and delivered your Honours and 
Councills order to Captain Tolson, desiring him to receive the 
prisoner. I informed him that the said prisoner was carried 
from the Sea Gate, and that he refused to come on board unless 
he were hoisted in. Captain Tolson replied that all his passengers 
came on board willingly, and would not hoist him in, nor suffer 
any body else to do it, nor would he overhale the last tackle in 
his ship, and that he would not suffer any gentleman lying along- 
side his ship forced on board or ill used. Captain Tolson asked 
the prisoner if he would come on board, which the said prisoner 
refused. Then the prisoner demanded of Captain Tolson, whether 
he had any further commands for him. Captain Tolson answered 
no. I waited for a note, but at last he told me I might go, for 
he would give me none 1 ." 

1 Wheeler 2. 116. 
D. 25 



IN the foregoing narrative of the more important 
events of Governor Pitt's official career at Fort St 
George, references to his family troubles have been 
omitted so far as has been found practicable. To 
have dealt with them as they arose must have en- 
tailed the interpolation of detailed explanations, 
which would have broken the sequence of events 
unnecessarily. For they had little, if any, bearing on 
his decisions and actions in any particular crisis. But 
his official difficulties during the whole of his pro- 
tracted absence from England, involving as they did 
the constant frustration of his plans for returning 
home, had a very material bearing on his unfortunate 
estrangement from his wife and the quarrels of his 
children. It will be well at this stage of his life, 
whilst he is on his voyage back from India, to retrace, 
so far as the records enable us to do so, the origin 
and course of his unhappy domestic differences, and 
to explain the position awaiting him when he reached 

When he had sailed from England for Madras in 
1698 with his son Robert, there is no reason to sup- 
pose that he was not on excellent terms with his wife. 
Each owed much to the other. Their marriage had 
brought him into terms of intimacy with Vincent, 
greatly to the advantage of both men ; and his suc- 
cesses had placed her in a far better position than 


she could have hoped otherwise to attain. On going 
out, he had left her the uncontrolled management of 
his affairs at home, making her his sole attorney, as 
according to her own account he had done on every 
previous occasion when he had left her 1 . For her 
guidance in the disposal of any merchandise he might 
send home from India, and the purchase and dis- 
patch of the goods and bullion to be sent out to him 
from Europe for the carrying on of his private trade 
in the East, he had secured for her the services of 
two of his oldest friends, Samuel Ongley and Peter 
Godfrey, both of whom were members of the Court 
of the Old Company, and had been of great assistance 
to him in obtaining his appointment as Governor of 
Fort St George. For herself and her young family, 
which consisted at the time of her husband's depar- 
ture of two sons, Thomas and William, and two 
daughters, Essex and Lucy, and which was increased 
a few months after his departure by the birth of a 
third son, John, she had a pleasant country seat, the 
manor house of Mawarden Court at Stratford, and ap- 
parently a residence at Blandf ord St Mary, with ampler 
means of living in comfort in both than were at that 
time possessed by most county families. For advice 
in the education "of her sons, Thomas Curgenven was 
available, who had married one of her husband's 
sisters and had been headmaster of the two best 
schools in Dorset, the Blandf ord Free School and 
the school at Sherborne. Few women, whose hus- 
bands have been compelled to leave them to serve 
their country abroad, have remained in England in 
easier circumstances, or been treated with greater 
consideration and confidence by their lords. 

For a while nothing seems to have occurred to 
mar the harmony of their separate married life. 
Mrs Thomas Pitt continued to live in comfort at 

1 Dropmore i. 36. 



Stratford, whilst the Governor had his hands full of 
troublesome business in Madras. The terms on which 
they were with one another two years after his 
arrival there may be gathered from the following 

letters 1 : 

" Feb 22nd 1700. 
To Mrs. Pitt. 

My dear 

Robin is not yet return'd from China, nor have I heard 
from him since May last from Batavia. I send you by Mr. Topp 
my good Tennant's Brother Severall things as per list enclos'd, 
a share of which I would have you distribute among my ffriends, 
and by him I send Essex a small diamond ring, and two small 
Stones to make Lucy something. In some of the Bales there 
is fine Betteelaes and chints, if you have Occasion or desire any 
Mr. Godfrey will deliver them to you. 

Here comes on this Ship the Late Governor Higginson and 
his Lady, Capt Metcalfe and his, whome I would have you 
visitt, if in London, here comes alsoe Mr. Pluymer, who will 
be assistant to you at all times in disposeing of any Diamonds. 

I hope you look after my plantations, Gardens, &ca as I 
desir'd, that I may find 'em on my returne in a good Condition. 
My blessing to the Children, of whose education pray take great 
Care. My service to all our ffriends and relations, not forgetting 
Mr. Phillips and J. Humphrey, nor any of our neighbours worth 
remembering. My hearty love and affection to your Selfe, wish- 
ing us a happy meeting 

Your affectionate husband, etc." 

In another letter, dated the next day, he writes : 

" This comes by my Lord Abingdon's son, who I suppose will 
be Sooner at London than any. My cocquet comes by Capt 
Metcalfe, in your absence directed to Mr Peter Godfrey, Copy 
of whose letter I enclose to you, by which you'le find I have 
sent home Considerably this year, which God grant may arrive 
Safe, the produce is to be paid you. I would have you remember 
the poor of our Parish and St. Mary Blandford." 

It would appear from the second of these letters 
that the Governor was sending home by the ship 

1 B.M. Additional MS. 22842, Nos. 78 and 83 ; Hedges 3. 62. 


that took it a valuable consignment, which in the 
ordinary course of business would be disposed of by 
Godfrey and Ongley, who would pay the proceeds 
to his wife, whose duty as her husband's attorney 
it would be to see that the money was prudently 
laid out in accordance with his instructions and the 
advice given to her by Godfrey and Ongley, in the 
purchase of goods and bullion to be exported to India 
for the purposes of her husband's private trade there. 
The whole of the gains to be got by the Governor of 
Fort St George depended on this trade, for the success 
of which it was essential that he should receive as 
promptly and regularly as practicable full and clear 
accounts of the disposition of the merchandise which 
he had sent home, and a constant and well-selected 
supply of exports purchased with the produce of its 
sale. It is not difficult therefore to realise the anxiety 
with which he must have awaited the arrival of the 
precious goods and bullion on which he relied to en- 
able him to carry on his business ; the irritation with 
which he learnt after a considerable delay that they 
were not coming out to him ; and his indignation at 
receiving nothing but the vaguest intimations of 
what was being done in the meanwhile with his 
intercepted working capital. Take as an example of 
the letters that began now to reach him, the follow- 
ing from his old friend Ongley 1 f written on the 26th 
of February 1701, and probably brought to him by 
a ship by which he had hoped to receive from home 
a large consignment of bullion and European wares : 

" Madame Pitts has advised me not to concerne you in any 
shipping on a double accompt, because Shipping turns to noe 
accompt, and the greater Reason is that She has occation for all 
the money in my hands to pay for Some land that she has bought, 
of which I suppose she will give you an accompt. I observe you 
order me to pay what Madame Pitts shall Requier^of me, which 
order I must obey she haveing the Same from you." 
1 Hedges 3. 64. 


Ongley's assumption that Mrs Pitt would give 
her husband an account of her expenditure of the 
moneys handed over to her does not seem to have 
been well founded. Writing on the 22nd of October 
1701 to his brother-in-law Curgenven, the Governor 
says : 

" My Wife has writt mee little or nothing to the purpose 
this year, nor has sent me nothing, tho' I positively order'd her. 
She writes me God knows what that she is about purchases, 
but not a word of what some has cost or others will cost. 
I have noe manner of Accompt of what I left her, what She has 
received or paid since, what I have hence sent her or what it 
Sold for, but all railing against one or other, which has very much 
expos'd my busyness and done me a great deal of prejudice. 
Soe that I find great inconveniences by trusting a woman with 
bysiness which I will avoid for the future 1 ." 

The railings referred to in this letter seem to have 
consisted of abuse of Godfrey, amongst others. The 
following letter from Godfrey refers to some disputes 
with Mrs Pitt, in which the Governor seems to have 
taken his wife's side and to have written angrily to 
his old friend. 

" London. 23rd July 1701. 

Unless I should write you what I have already done, that 
your Writings Signifyes little to one, who will doe but what 
Shee will, or advise you what I hear, which I find Sowers you 
beyond what is usuall, therefore I shall only tell you I was 
not the author of the meannesse of your Imployment or of your 
Son's Trip to the Jubilee, But was as much Surprised at it as 
you, or more, because it seemed to arrise from powers derived 
from you. As for my Going for Deal I shall bee as ready If my 
Company may be acceptable to wait upon your Lady thither, 

whenever shee will Imbarque for India althd you seem 

to have a mean opinion of my sincere affection to you and yours 
I know no reason. I am sure my actions will justifye mee. But 
what I have been Misrepresented' it is from those to whose temper 
you are noe Stranger, therefore methinks you should reflect on 
things before you despise one you have found as a friend ; or is 
it you are jealous I have an esteem for your kinsman? " (Consul 

1 Hedges 3. 69. 


John Pitt). " Consider and let me know wherein I have been 
wanting in respect or friendship to you. I think I cannot doe 
more for any than I have Endeavoured for your service. As 
for the Megrums, If I desir'd to enter a paper combatt you have 
given me handle enough, but I am for peace and soe shall say 
noe more, but pitty your misfortune that your &ca. Pray what 
is it reignes in India that you are all upon the Quarrels 1 ? " 

This letter has an honest ring about it, which 
should not be overlooked. The Governor's reply in 
the following year shows that the controversy between 
these two old comrades over Mrs Pitt's eccentricities 
had not permanently shaken their friendship. "I 
always/' he writes, " esteem'd old friends as old 
gold, and in these matters I am not given to change. 
Those that have known mee longest must say that 
'twas never my temper to bee quarrelling and 
jangling, nor to purchase any one's friendship upon 
dishonourable termes 2 ." 

In the face of his wife's neglect to furnish him 
with proper business accounts and her persistent 
interception of his supplies, the Governor decided 
to deprive her of the control of his money affairs in 
England. Accordingly his son Robert, when he left 
Fort St George in October 1702, carried with him a 
revocation of his mother's powers, and a document 
appointing Sir Stephen Evans and himself to act in 
her place. It is unlikely that with his knowledge 
of the characters of his wife and son he took this 
step without serious misgivings. But he had prac- 
tically no alternative. What with the shortage of 
remittances from England, and the purchase of the 
two great diamonds, one of which Robert was taking 
home, whilst the other had gone down in the Bedford, 
his available working capital in India must by this 
time have been grievously depleted. With his 
distrust of his wife's business capacity and his 

1 Hedges 3. 68. 2 Hedges 3. 78. 


experience of her unwillingness to comply with his 
directions, it was impossible for him to entrust her 
with the custody and disposal of his great concern. 
He therefore showed Robert the letters he had received 
from England relating to her mismanagement, ex- 
plained why she was now to be superseded, instructed 
him fully as to the proceedings which he and Evans 
were to take ; and at the same time strictly enjoined 
him to be dutiful to her and loving to his sisters 1 . 

On reaching London, Robert, as we have seen, 
promptly married, according to his own account with 
his mother's consent 2 . His father, however, distinctly 
states that Mrs Pitt had told him that she had not 
seen the lady until after the marriage. Be this as it 
may, there is no reason to suppose that she objected 
to the marriage. For she gave the young couple, in 
her husband's name, a present of 1000, which he 
subsequently refused to pay. But it was not long 
before mother and son fell out. In one of his earliest 
letters to his father after his arrival in England, 
Robert reports, " Your affairs have been in all re- 
spects mismanaged 3 /' and a month afterwards he 
sent out to India an account of a dispute which he 
had had with his mother in regard to the control of 
some property near Salisbury, which she claimed as 
hers by settlement. How far her mismanagement 
had been due to a lack of business capacity, and 
how far to pique and perverseness, seems doubtful. 
Writing to his brother-in-law Curgenven in December 
1704, her husband says : 

" Dear Brother, 

I did not find my wife had done much towards Settling my 
Accounts, while from want of understanding, as well as some 
perverseness, She has not put them into a little confusion, for 
which Reason I resolve to hasten home 4 /* 

1 Dropmore i. 5. 2 Dropmore i. 7. 

3 Dropmore i. 10, n. 4 Hedges 3. 96. 


It might have been well for their domestic happi- 
ness if he could have carried out this resolution. 
The reasons which kept him from doing so have 
already been explained. Meanwhile his resentment 
against her seems to have been as yet grounded 
solely on her mismanagement of his ~ business and 
her failure to comply with his instructions in regard 
to them, and he seems still to have retained his 
conjugal^ affection for her. Writing to his son, he 
says 1 : " My love to your Mother, to whome I charge 
you all to be very Dutyfull, and my blessing to you 
all, and I hope you'le follow my Advices to you of 
Sticking close to your Studies, and take those good 
Courses I have Soe often recommended to you, which 
will be advantageous to your selfe and a comfort to 
me." Two months later he writes again : "I strictly 
injoyn you to be Dutyfull to your Mother and Loving 
to your brothers and sisters, and follow the good 

advices I have always given you I assure you 

'tis noe small care that I am hourly under for your 
Welfare, and whereas I have and ever shall doe my 
part I hope you will yours. Give my Love to your 
Mother, my blessing to your Selfe, Brothers and Sisters, 
and Service to all friends." Up to this date there is 
no hint in his correspondence that he entertained any 
doubt of the propriety of his wife's private conduct. 
All the previous references to her in his correspon- 
dence with members of the Pitt family point to 
the conclusion that she had been living a well-regu- 
lated domestic life with her children, sometimes at 
Mawarden Court and sometimes at her residence in 
Blandford St Mary. One of the Governor's cousins, 
Captain John Pitt, who afterwards greatly distin- 
guished himself as aide-de-camp to the Duke of 
Marlborough, by whom he was commissioned to 
bring home the despatches of the victory at Blenheim, 

1 Hedges 3. 82, 83. 


writing to Fort St George in January 1702, says: 
" I am glad I was or can bee serviceable to your good 
lady and selfe, there is nobody without compliment 
more desierous of it. In my way the last Sumer to 
my quarter, I call'd at Stratford, and stayd fower 
days with Mrs. Pitt and pretty family, who were all 
in health and learne their books bravely 1 /' Another 
cousin, Dr Robert Pitt, who had succeeded to the 
family practice at Blandford about the same time 
writes : ' ' Dear Cousin, As the News of your Recovery 
was very wellcome to me and all your Friends, I can 
acquaint you that my Cozen and Miss Essex are both 
in perfect health/' Another cousin, Thomas Pitt, 
Master in Chancery, reports in the same month: 
' Your Lady was a few dayes agoe at my house and 
looks as well as ever I saw her. You are a great way 
off, and have been a great while gon. I amongst the 
rest of your friends could wish that you were now to 
Returne. You have the satisfaction to have your 
Eldest Son with you. And it will be a great pleasure 
to you when you Return to find All your other children 
so well come on/' 

This pleasant state of things was soon brought to 
a close after Robert's return. The discord that arose 
between him and his mother rapidly grew worse and 
worse and extended to his sisters, who not unnatur- 
ally sided with their mother. It is easy to understand 
that Mrs Pitt bitterly resented being supplanted in 
the management of her husband's affairs by her son, 
and that she expressed her opinion on the subject to 
him and others in words which lost nothing of their 
acrimony and extravagance in their transmission to 
the Governor by Robert, and which led his father to 
write back angrily on one occasion : " If what you 
write of your mother be true, I think she is mad, and 
wish she were well secured in Bedlam ; but I charge 

1 Hedges 3. 72, 73. 


you to let nothing she says or does make you unduti- 
ful in any sense whatever." This latter injunction, 
as might have been expected, had no effect. Robert's 
temper was none of the best, and his consequen- 
tial bearing and tactless proceedings in his newly 
acquired position his mother and sisters seem to 
have found insufferable. The Governor was inun- 
dated with complaints from him of his mother's and 
sisters' conduct, and with letters from them and others 
giving their versions of the numerous quarrels and 
misunderstandings that ensued. If we bear in mind 
the difficulty of discriminating at the other end of 
the world between the demerits of the disputants and 
the shortness of the Governor's temper, it is not 
surprising that he solved the problem by roundly 
abusing both sides. In the same letter in which he 
calls his wife a mad woman, he writes to Robert: 
' You cannot but know the reason why your sisters 
are not with you, as I have a letter from Essex, who 
resents your ill treatment of her, and so do I, who 
know your temper too well. Your brothers and 
sisters have no dependence on you, nor ever shall ; 
and as my children behave themselves, one better 
than another, I shall consider them and no otherwise. 
Inclosed is a letter sent to me without a name, by 
which you will see what a character you have 
already got 1 ." 

Irritating as the news of these family wranglings 
must have been to the poor man, they were soon 
followed by still more disquieting tidings. Towards 
the end of the year 1704, his son informed him that 
his mother had taken a house at Bath, where she 
and her daughters resided during the greater part 
of the year. " My sisters are at Bath," he says, 
" with my mother and we seldom meet except in the 
country during summer. I always invite them to 

1 Dropmore i. 12. 


pass the winter in London with my wife, in order that 
they may have the benefit of masters and the best 
society ; but my civility is thrown away, they being 
for some unknown reason, set against me." Robert, 
when he wrote this, must have been well aware that 
it would be anything but pleasant news to his father 
to hear that his wife, who had already two country 
houses to live in, had taken another at Bath, which, 
if we may judge of it from contemporary writers, was 
one of the last places in the world that an absentee 
husband would have wished his wife and daughters 
to select for their residence. Those who know it only 
as it is to-day may find some difficulty in realising 
the reputation which it enjoyed in that age. It had 
lately become under Beau Nash, what it continued 
to be for the greater part of the eighteenth century, 
not only a resort for invalids, but the most fashion- 
able watering-place of the day, the favourite rendez- 
vous of the fast set, where all who cared to do so 
could indulge in unrestrained extravagance, gaiety, 
intrigue and dissipation. One writer, after describing 
in detail his own unedifying experiences there, sums 
it up thus: " In a word, 'tis a Valley of Pleasure, yet 
a Sink of Iniquity ; nor is there any Intrigue or 
Debauch in London, but it is Mimick'd here V Oliver 
Goldsmith, in his Life of Nash years afterwards, but 
before Sheridan had written his comedies, says of 
it, as it was at this time : "Scandal must have fixed 
her throne in Bath, preferable to any other part of 
the Kingdom/' Students of the Spectator will re- 
member Steele's account of the young man who, 
finding that his reputation for modesty and chastity 
was far from being a recommendation to the young 
ladies of his acquaintance, deliberately set him- 
self to a carefully graduated course of dissipation, 

1 A Step to the Bath, with a character of the place, London, 


commencing as a freshman the first year with two 
small rural spas, Astrop and Bury, and proceeding in 
his second year to Epsom and Scarborough in succes- 
sion. " In my third year/' he says, " I aspired to go 
to Tunbridge ; and in the autumn of the same year 
made my appearance at Bath. I had now got into 
the Way of Talk proper for Ladies, and was run into 
a vast acquaintance among them, which I always 
improved to the best advantage. In all this Course 
of Time and some Years following I found a Sober, 
Modest Man was always looked upon by both Sexes 
as a precise unfashioned Fellow of no Life or Spirit. 
It was ordinary for a Man, who had been drunk in 
good Company or had passed the night with a wench 
to speak of it next day before Women for whom he 
had the greatest Respect. He was reproved perhaps 
with a Blow of the Fan, or an Oh, Fie, but the angry 
Lady still preserved an apparent Approbation in 
her countenance. He was called a Strange, wicked 
Fellow, a Sad Wretch ; he Shrugs his Shoulders, swears, 
receives another Blow, swears again he did not know 
he swore and all was well/' The reputations of Nash, 
then in his youthful prime, and his friends, who set 
the tone of the society there, were such that self- 
respecting women of rank were chary of meeting 
them. Lady Strafford, writing from London to her 
husband Lord Strafford, when ambassador at the 
Hague, says of his sister-in-law : 

" I believe sister Wentworth is more extravagant than ever 
for fear the world should think she is mortified at your being 
marred, but she can't govern her passions so much but that the 
world takes notis of her uneasyness. She is talked on for Mr. 
Nash and Coll. Joslain more than ever. I wonder her husband 

can be so imposed on as to be pleas' d with there company 

As for scandall, the town has now a great deal at Lady Mary 
Gore's cost, tho' som says she desarves more then is said of her. 
At the Bath there was a particular set of company, six men and 
six women that mett two or three times a week to dance, and 


won night All the candles were blown out, and the men was 
very rude, upon which Mr. Gore desired her to goe no more into 
that company, but she told him she would, and if citizens pre- 
tended to marry quality they must take it for their pains I 

have heard an old saying there is no catching old birds with 
chaffe, so I hope I am to old for sister Wentworth to play me any 
of her tricks, tho' I must say she has laid as many trapps to draw 
me into her gang of company, as ever anybody did ; but she 
has never accomplish'd her design, for I have been but twice 
to see her since I cam to town and then I did only make her a 
formall visit. She has invited my sisters and I to play at cards 
with her of twelveday, and since I here there is to be Mr. Nash 
and a great many more of her fellows, so I don't intend to say 
anything tell the day comes, and then I'll send her word I have 
a great cold, and so can't wait on her. I am not so much a fool 
but I can see through her designs, for she thinks if she introduces 
all her folks to me, if the world reflects on her for keeping such 
company, she'll say that I keep there company as well as she. 
I thinke my brother the greatest fool that ever was, for he is 
the fondest thing of the world of Nash and delighted with all 
his wife dos 1 ." 

Extravagant entertainments, gaieties, intrigues 
and scandal were by no means the only dangers that 
awaited lady visitors at Bath who desired to pose as 
up to date. Large fortunes were habitually lost by 
both sexes there at gaming. Nash, who had no means 
of his own beyond the presents he received from his 
admirers, was enabled to keep up a splendid appear- 
ance at this stage of his career, mainly by the exer- 
cise of his talents as a gamester, supplemented by the 
royalties which he extracted from the proprietors of 
the gaming tables in the town. Of all vices, none 
was dreaded more by Governor Pitt than gaming, 
and with good reason. " Whenever I am certain/' 
he writes to his son Robert on one occasion, " that 
any of my children game, I will by all that is good 
disinherit them/' a threat which he did not hesitate 
to carry into execution in after years in the case of 
his youngest son, John 2 . The news that his wife and 

1 Wentworth Papers 219, 234. 2 Dropmore i. 21. 


daughters had left their country homes and were 
now living at one of the head centres of gaming 
must have been as alarming to him as it would be 
for a thrifty man of the present day to hear that his 
wife and daughters had settled down at Monte Carlo. 
' It was a surprise to me/' he writes, " to hear that 
all my family who I left in a pleasant habitation 
were removed to the Bath, and there spending my 
estate faster than I got it 1 ." The following seems to 
have been the provision which he authorised Evans 
to allow her at this time : " You may permitt my 
Wife to receive the income of my land at Old Sarum 
and St. Mary, Blandford, in Dorsetshire, to maintaine 
her, her two daughters and three sons, two of the 
latter I believe may be come away, if Soe I desire 
you to disburse their maintenance, in which pray be 
thrifty, and charge them Soe too, or Fie put 'em to 
short allowance when I come home, and if my Wife 
draws any bills upon you, I order 'em to be returned, 
and not a penny paid, for I will not allow it in my 
account 2 ." Later on, he writes: " I still positively 
order that my wife and daughters live on the income 
of my land 3 /' 

These and similar passages in his correspondence 
have been cited as proofs of his inordinate love of 
money. But it can hardly be contended that he had 
not good reason to fear that his hardly earned wealth 
might soon be dissipated if he allowed his wife and 
daughters a free hand at Bath. To what extent, if 
any, they were victimised by the card-sharping frater- 
nity of the place does not appear. But that Mrs Pitt 
was not altogether as prudent as Lady Strafford in 
shunning the fast set, and that her reputation was 
compromised by her intimacy with some man whom 
she met there, is clear from the reports of her indis- 
cretions which were sent out to her husband in India, 

1 Dropmore i. 4. 2 Hedges 3. 93. * Dropmore i. 41. 


not only by her son but also by other good-natured 
friends. " I have heard from others/' her husband 
writes to Robert in September 1706 l , "the truth of 
which I cannot question, that that scoundrell ras- 
cally villain has been too intimate in my family, to 
the prejudice of my honour and their reputation, for 
I make noe distinction between women that are 
reputed ill and such as are actually soe ; wherefore 
I have discarded and renounced your mother for 
ever, and will never see her more, if I can avoid it." 
Writing two years later to his son, he says : " Mr. 
Shipman hinted to me that your mother had been 
guilty of some imprudence at the Bath. . .let it bee 
what it will, in my esteem she is noe longer my wife, 
nor will I see her more, if I can help it 2 ." No useful 
object can now be gained by raking up the ashes of 
this long-forgotten scandal and endeavouring to ascer- 
tain its foundation. We shall probably not be far 
wrong if we assume that the poor lady's peccadilloes, 
whatever they were, were greatly magnified by the 
local scandalmongers before they reached the ears of 
Robert and her husband's staid merchant friends, 
who passed them on in horror by way of warning to 
her husband. But whatever they may have been, 
they undoubtedly were the ostensible reason of his 
permanent separation from her. That he did not 
cast her off without resources is evident from the 
following letter, which she wrote to her son Robert 
from Mawarden Court after leaving Bath : 

" Tho' your sisters' allowances are too small, yet I hope 
nither that nor the smallness of thare fortuns at present, will 
ever make them think of marrying below what has bin, and is 
yet offered to me for them : it being in my power to ad con- 
siderably to both when I pleas, as I can show under your father's 
own hand to me, tho' in a very surly od sort of a way : but I 
can overlook that since I gain my main point. I thank you for 

1 Dropmore i. 23. a Dropmore i. 39. 


your kind offer as much as if I could accept it ; but having had a 
house of my own above this 20 year, resolve to git a good one 
now to my mind, so desire you will let me have the refusall of 
yours, if not allready promised. If it be, then I designe to 
have either Lady Betty Suthwall's in the Pell Mell or Sir Thomas 
Scipworth's at Twitnam, or brother Douglasses at Ham, all 
which places I like, and hear they are to be let. Your father's 
genourous alowance to me will serve to pay rent, and for the 
rest he shall find that I can live upon the aire as well and better 
than ever I did in my life, for I wont disgrace him by living meanly 
no longer ; and since he dont know what is fit for me to have 
and do, he will know that I do who was always most saving 
when allowed most liberty. And since the alowance is his own 
nameing, I am able to let him see that after being his sole attorney 
for near 20 year upon ail occasions, that I did when it was in my 
power do what I hope he will be wiser than ever provoke me to 
put into execution, by anymore unjust or unreasonable useage, for 
nothing elce shall ever drive me to it. So that I now designe 
what is barely necessary with all imaginable thrift : but I will 
have a good house, in order to which I hope to see you at Forty " 
(Hill) " in a week in my way to Bernet " (Barnet), " and dis- 
course this and some other matters fairly 1 ." 

What the threat in the latter part of this letter 
means is far from clear. The letter is endorsed by 
her son, "My mother's letter about her power to 
embroil my fathers affairs/' 

In November of the same year Robert writes to 
his father: "My sisters continued to reside with my 
wife till last month, when they went to live with my 
mother, who has a house upon the Upper Terrace of 
St. James's Street. My mother has given up to them 
for dress the 200 a year which you allow her, having 
sufficient of her own~to maintain herself and them*." 
It would seem from this that Mrs Pitt had ample 
means of her own. 200 a year in those days was 
equivalent to at least 1000 now. 

How deeply her husband was moved by the 
rumours of his wife's incontinency is evidenced by 
the savage tone of the letters which he addressed to 

1 Dropmore i. 35. 

2 Dropmore i. 38. 




Robert by the same mail, in which he announced 
his intention never to see his wife again. 

" What hellish planet is it," he asks, " that influences you 
all, and causes such unaccountable distraction that it has pub- 
lished your shame to the world ; which has so affected me that 

I cannot resolve what to doe Have all of you shook hands 

with shame that you regard not any of the tyes of Christianity, 
humanity, consanguinity, duty, good morality, or any thing that 
makes you differ from beasts, but must run from one end of the 
Kingdome to the other, aspersing one another and aiming at 
the ruine and destruction of each other ? that you should dare 
to doe such an unnatural and approbrious action as to turne 
your mother and sisters out of doors ? for which I observe your 
frivolous reasons and was astonished to read them ; and I no 
less resint what they did to your child at Stratford. But I see 
your hand is against every one of them, and every one against 
you, and your brother William to his last dying minute. How 
do you thinke this has chagrined me and what anxious and 
desperate thoughts it has brought into my mind and damp'd 
my desire of ever seeing you more, or any of you all, for I can 
promise myself noe comfort of you 1 ." 

His son William, to whom he refers in this letter, 
had recently died of the smallpox. 

" Not only your letters, but all I have from friends are 
stuffed with an account of the hellish confusion that is in my 
family, and by what I can collect from all my letters the 
vileness of your actions on all sides are not to be paralleled in 
history. Did ever mother, brother and sisters study one another's 
ruine and destruction more than my unfortunate and cursed 
family have done ? and I wish you had not had the greatest 
share in it, for I cannot believe you innocent. This has so 
distracted my thoughts, staggered my resolutions, broken my 
measures, that I know not what to resolve upon, nor in what 
part of the world to seeke for repose. What I have fateagued 
for after this fashion and lived so many years in exile from my 
country and friends (I had enough to subsist on and that very 
handsomely too), but to make my children easy in their circum- 
stances and mee happy in their company ; and haveing by 
God's blessing acquired such a competency as I never expected 
or could hope for, soe as that I should have been able to establish 
a family as considerable as any of the name except our kinsman 

1 Dropmore i. 20. 


G(eorge) P(itt of Strathfieldsay) ; and now to have all blasted 
by an infamous wife and children. It is such a shock as man 
never mett with, and whether I shall overcome it, or sink under 
it, God knows. Is this the way to invite mee home ? When I 
am well assured you are all of you thoroughly reformed I may 
think of it ; but as matters stood at the writing of your letters, 
I think your company hell itselfe. I cannot but thinke of your 
turning your mother and sister out of doors, and your frivollous 
pittiful excuses for it : and I think their resentment just, and 
remember it will be a caution to somebody else when he arrives. 
You say your house has two rooms of a floor, and a closett, and 
as I suppose four or five storeys high. It was very hard you 
could not spare them one storey. I should have done it to your 

wife and children, had they been twice as many Remember 

this action will stick to you as long as you live, and I noe less 
resent and think ill of those who turned the poor child out at 
Stratford. Then it is said that in all companies you expose your 
brothers and sisters, who ought to conceale their faults and sup- 
port their character ! It is ill to do any such thing to either, more 
espetially your sisters whosg reputation ought to be as dear to you 
as your life ; and I would rather you would cutt their throats 
and mine too than you should doe any such thing, or have as 
much as a thought to their prejudice. What makes you quarrel 
with them ? Is it that you would have mee thinke you are the 
Saint of the family ? Noe, I know you too well and parted 
with you, when you were at man's estate but left them all pooi 
innocent children. I have various thoughts of all your actions, 
and how barbarously and inhumanelike you treat each other. 
Will dyed with complaints in his mouth against you. It is 
much that no one should be of your party, or it may be the designe 
is that I should discard them all, that soe I might be the better able 

to contribute to the supporting of your extravagances ? 

You say my great concerne is the wonder of the world. Soe is 

the confusion in my family You have all put me to a 

vast trouble in reading and answering your long letters, stuffed 
with nothing but confusion, and of such a nature as have very 
much disordered me to the great prejudice of my affairs ; there- 
fore I conjure you all to reforme or never let me hear more from 
you ; soe conclude this letter, that for ever cursed be the children 
of mine that love not one another, and give their utmost assist- 
ance to each other on all occasions 1 ." 

This uncontrolled outburst of parental wrath and 
disgust seems to have brought his children for a 

1 Dropmore i. 22. 



while to their senses more effectually than the most 
affecting homily on the beauties of brotherly and 
sisterly love could have done. For it elicited in due 
course a joint letter from them all, expressing their 
sorrow for their unnatural discords and a resolution 
to live in harmony for the future 1 . 

It is unlikely that their father either expected or 
received any similar expression of contrition from his 
wife. She, like her husband, had a temper of her 
own, and was by no means inclined to take his in- 
sults tamely. It was as impossible for her to sue for 
his forgiveness as it was for him to forgive her. Long 
protracted absence and a sense of mutual wrong had 
done their work. They never came together again, 
nor, so far as appears from their correspondence, did 
either of them express any desire whatever to do so. 

1 Dropmore i. 35. 



ROBERT PITT must have been about twenty-four 
years old when he came back from India in charge 
of the great diamond, and to supersede his mother 
in conjunction with Sir Stephen Evans in the 
management of his father's affairs at home. He 
seems to have brought with him, according to his 
own account, some 6000, gained in the China trade 
in which he had been given through his father's 
influence very exceptional opportunities of making 
money. For some years before his return he had 
been anxious to gef back to England, having little 
taste for trade, in which apparently he never 
embarked again. Nor does his father seem to have 
wished him to try his luck a second time in 
the East. Writing to Evans in February 1705, he 
says : "I observe what you write of my Sone talking 
of comeing out in a Sepparate Stock Ship and going 
into a Mann of Warr. I hope 'tis but talk, and that 
he will remaine at home till my arrivall 1 ." It was 
necessary for the carrying out of the Governor's 
plans that his son should remain at that time in 
England ; but it is clear that he possessed neither 
the qualifications nor the habits that would have 
been likely to make him a good man of business. 
What his father wished him to do had been indicated 
in the memorandum given him on leaving India and 
in subsequent letters 2 . He was to take over with 

1 Hedges 3. 98. 2 Dropmore i. 5. 


Evans the responsible duty (no slight one for so 
young a man) of managing his father's money affairs 
in England, and the education of his brothers and 
sisters ; to keep on good terms with them and his 
mother ; to write to Fort St George regularly " by 
all conveyances whatever, overland ; Surat or any 
other way/' advising of all public and private occur- 
rences concerning his father's interests, and especially 
of the proceedings of the Directors of the Old and 
New East India Companies, and their inclinations 
towards his father ; and lastly to look after the 
management of the family estates. These duties of 
themselves if properly discharged would have absorbed 
the greater part of his time. At the next Parlia- 
mentary election he was to take his seat as member 
for Old Sarum. In the meanwhile he was to keep his 
own private fortune intact, and to improve his edu- 
cation 1 . " If nothing presents, which is advantageous 
to you," his father writes to him in November 1703, 
" I should advise you since your Years will admit 
of it, to enter your Selfe in the Inns of Court, and goe 
to Oxford for 3 or 4 years, and Stick Close to your 
Studies, which I would Chiefly have to be Civill Law, 
and if possible too make Your Selfe Master of forty- 
fication and Gunnery, and I hope the little experience 
you have allready had in the World will not only 
render these accomplishments necessary, but desire- 
able by you." 

These were his instructions. We have already 
seen how some of the more important of them had 
been ignored ; how, although he had arrived in Lon- 
don some time in May 1703, he had not sent his 
father any detailed account of the safety and disposal 
of the great diamond until December in that year ; 
and how he was soon seriously embroiled in violent 
quarrels with his mother and sisters. Nor was this 

1 Hedges 3. 83. 



all. He seems to have taken little, if any, pains to 
keep in close touch with the East India House. Mr 
John Styleman, one of his father's most faithful 
supporters, in a letter in which he informs Governor 
Pitt that he has made it his business to defend him 
there on all occasions, writes in December 1704: "I 
am sorry I have had so little correspondence with 
your son Mr. Robert Pitt. Though I waited on him 
at his first coming home, I have never had the honour 
of seeing him at my poor house. He has always been 
very shy of me, for what reason I cannot imagine. 
I pray God the character you will receive of him 
from his friends be such as may answer vour expec- 
tations 1 ." 

It is to be feared that Styleman's case was by no 
means an exceptional one. Writing to his son two 
years later, the Governor says: "You do not write 
one word of any of the Company as to their being 
well affected or otherwise to me, nor have any of 
them said one word about you, so that I believe you 
are wholly strangers to one another. My interest 
lies at the East India House, which you should have 
always attended to, and been very vigilant that 
nothing passed to my prejudice. But I perceive 
that you have not minded anything of it, for which 
and other of your actions, I think that no son in 
the world deserves more to be discarded by a 
father 2 ." 

Within a few weeks of reaching London, Robert 
had married the daughter of Lady j&randison, who 
seems to have made him an excellent wife, young, 
good looking, accomplished and well connected. She 
brought him 2000 on her marriage, so that their 
united fortunes at that time amounted, according to 
his own account, to 8000. His father put them down 
at 10,000, a very reasonable competency for a young 

1 Dropmore I. 12. 2 Dropmore i. 24. 


married couple, considering the value of money in 
those days. Robert seems to have thought otherwise. 
On announcing his marriage to his father he says 
that he trusts the latter will assist them, adding that 
he hopes " to obtain some genteel appointment by 
the intercession " of his wife's relatives, a hope that 
was never realised. He took a house in Golden 
Square ; and in the first few years of his married 
life encroached considerably on his capital. Writing 
in December 1704, to his father, he says: " I hope 
that the good accounts you have received of my 
marriage have induced you to approve of it, and 
that you will send your blessing to your little grand 
daughter Harriet, born in May last, of whom I have 
presumed to name you godfather. My dependence 
on your love and generosity has made me endeavour 
to put myself on a footing in the world becoming 
your son ; but without your support I must soon 
sink under the pressure of my own narrow fortune 1 ." 
It would seem that this was not the first application 
of this nature which he had made to his father. For 
whilst this letter was on its way out to India his 
father wrote to Evans of him on the 5th of February 
1705 : "He has wrote me to inlarge his fortune, 
which I take to be considerable, as mention 'd to you 
in a former letter, not less than ten thousand pound, 
besides he is qualify'd for any manner of employ, 
but if you see him streighten'd, and that I am in 
Cash, Scruple not the leting him have five hundred 
or a thousand pound, but let him give a receipt to 
repay the same to my Cash, and when I come home 
I shall not be wanting to doe what becomes an In- 
dulgent ffather, if he deserves it 2 ." At the same 
time he had written to Robert : "I have sent 
nothing to your wife but a letter, because I intend to 
follow speedily. Remember, both of you, that good 

1 Dropmore i. 13. 2 Hedges 3 98. 




management is as necessary to preserve an estate as 
to raise one. Stick close to your Studies, so as to 
make yourself master of common and civil law, and 
preserve what you know of mercantile and maritime 
affairs 1 /' 

Early in 1705 Robert entered Parliament as mem- 
ber for his father's seat at Old Sarum. Following as 
they did closely on his complaints of his narrow 
fortune, his election expenses came as a great shock 
to his father 2 . "When I hear," he writes, "in what 
manner you went down to Old Sarum against the 
election, sent down a man cook some time before, 
coach and six, five or six in liveries, open house for 
three or four months, and put me to about 500 
charge. Where was the need of this ? It never 
cost me more than 10, which was for a dinner the 
day of election. Your mothers and your extrava- 
gance has begot me no few enemies at the East India 
House, and had I not taken care to have engaged 
them by my good services, I could not have held the 

employ half soe long All your actions seem to 

be the produce of a hot head and giddy braine. You 
are got to the expensive end of town, where money 
melts like butter against the sun, and your acquaint- 
ance chargeable; whereas if you kept company with 
my old friends and adhered to their advice, you 
would have avoided many of those inconveniences 
that now you are groaning under; but they were all 
scorned and despised as not fit company for you, who 
fancy yourself wiser than your teachers and your 
father too." 

The Governor has been accused of too great fond- 
ness for money. But it is no confirmation of this 
view of his character that with five other children to 
provide for, and at a time when his working capital 

1 Dropmore i. 14. 

2 Dropmore i. 24. 


had been seriously reduced by the purchase of two 
great diamonds and the failure of his wife to send 
him out his remittances, he should at the time have 
been dismayed at the rate at which his eldest son 
was living at the West End on what he was pleased 
to call " a becoming footing/' To have encouraged 
him to go on spending his money after this fashion 
would have been a cruel kindness. For at his age, 
and with his notions of the style of living that became 
a son of the owner of the greatest diamond in Europe, 
there would in all probability have been no limits 
to his expenditure, if it had been allowed to continue 
unreproved. Nor was the Governor's fear that the 
extravagance of Mrs Pitt and his son would be in- 
jurious to him at the East India House by any means 
an imaginary one. It was most undesirable that at 
this critical time they should be flaunting their 
wealth as they were in the sight of the Company, 
who were likely to regard with suspicion any of their 
servants who had made large fortunes in India. The 
Directors were only too disposed to suspect that 
their servants' gains were their loss. It was very 
difficult to make them understand that men who 
brought home little with them, because they were 
unsuccessful in their own private trade, were not 
necessarily the best qualified to carry on their masters' 
business. Writing home to his brother a genera- 
tion before, Streynsham Master, the only merchant 
Governor of Fort St George comparable in ability 
to Governor Pitt, had noted this propensity on their 
part. He says : " I have observ'd our Company are 
very ungratefull and cruell to a man that hath got 
an Estate in their Service, altho' he have done them a 
hundred times more Service 1 ." Gough and Braddyll 
were now doing their best to induce the Directors 
of the United Company to believe Governor Pitt had 

1 Hedges 2. 244. 




been using their funds for the purposes of his own 
private trade ; and he had expressed a hope that 
his son would give them the lie on his arrival in Lon- 
don. Whether Robert had contradicted this rumour 
or not is uncertain : but there can be no doubt that 
his ostentatious extravagances following on those of 
his mother at Bath were, to say the least, not calcu- 
lated to discredit it. 

The Governor had cherished the ambition that 
his son would distinguish himself in Parliament. 
Before hearing of his election, he had written to 
him : 

' There are some now at the head of the Government who 
contrary to their own expectations have acquired high position 
by hard study and diligence in business ; and you can only 
hope to make a figure in the world by using the same means. 
If you are in Parliament, show yourself on all occasions a good 
Englishman, and a faithful servant to your country. If you 
aspire to fame in the House, you must make yourself master of 

its precedents and orders Avoid faction ; and never enter 

the House prepossessed : But attend diligently to the debate ; 
and vote according to your Conscience ; and not for any sinister 
end whatever. I had rather see any child of mine want than 
have him get his bread by voting in the House of Commons 1 ." 

The earlier reports that reached India of Robert's 
first experiences of Parliamentary life may have 
given his father some satisfaction. Sir Gilbert Dol- 
ben writes to him : 

" I am glad to observe Mr. Pitt's diligence and integrity in 
Parliament, wherein I doubt not but he will in a little time become 
considerable, since his parts and application cannot fail of ren- 
dering him knowing in the business of the House of Commons. 
He already attempts to speak where it is proper, and will succeed 
very well, as soon as he shall have overcome the maiden modesty 
of a new member. I tell him he is one of the happiest men 
of my acquaintance, being eldest son of a good and rich father, 
and having an excellent wife. I must declare I do not know 
a more accomplished person than Mrs. Pitt. It is a great dispute 
with those who have the pleasure of conversing with her, whether 

1 Dropmore i. 18. 


her beauty, understanding or good humour be the most capti- 
vating ; and I am much pleased to hear her husband frequently 
express a just sense of her merit and his own happiness 1 ." 

Any pleasure which the Governor may have de- 
rived from this appreciative report of his son's early 
Parliamentary career and the charming character of 
his wife, must have been seriously discounted by the 
news that reached him that his son had joined the 
Tory party, who were now in opposition. 

" I have often been thinking," he writes a year afterwards, 
" what box you have gott into in the House of Commons. 
I am affraid you are one of those chilldren that are awakened 
with the rattle that is constantly naming the Church of England, 
for which noe man have a greater veneration than myselfe : but 
I know it is often named within those walls to bring over a party, 
the consequence of which has been generally dangerous to the 
State. And it is the custom of old stagers to make use of such 
forward fellows as yourselfe (as the fox did the catt's foot) to 
trye the temper of the House. It is my advice that you speake 
seldome, and then to the purpose ; and make it your busyness 
to be well versed in the orders of the House ; and doe nothing 
that is dishonourable on any account. I cannot immagine what 
has made you an anti-courtier, when wee are sure wee have a 

Queen that is in no other interest than that of England 

I conclude this with recommending for your perusall a book 
entitled Miscellanies by the late Lord Marquis of Hallifax. 
The first part you and your sisters would doe well to read and 
practice : and out of the severall other heads it treats of, you 
may furnish yourself with such honourable notions of the affairs 
of your Countree that may render you serviceable thereto, and 
how to avoyed the reflections on those that are otherwise 2 ." 

In the meanwhile Robert, getting no encourage- 
ment from his father to continue living beyond his 
means and eating into his capital, had found it 
necessary to retrench and give up his establishment 
at Golden Square. He had taken a house at Enfield, 
and had ceased to attend regularly at the House of 
Commons, as appears from a letter to his father, 
written in February 1707 by Robert Raworth, who 

1 Dropmore i. 17. * Dropmore i. 27. 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 413 

" You talk very freely of coming home next season, but Sir 
Thomas Cook and others here do not expect you. I must say, 
as I said in my letter of last year, that if you have got 200,000, 
or half of it, you ought to be content and come home to enjoy 
it. There was however another reason for your return then, 
namely the discord that ran high in your family, which I hear 
nothing of now. After writing to you last year I composed a new 
difference that arose, and shall always be ready to do any friendly 
office ; but interfering between man and wife, or mother and 
children, is just like going between the bark and the tree, and 
therefore do not wonder that I am very tender in what I write. 
Your son has taken a large house at Enfield within four miles 
of mine ; he has a great deal of wit, but wants solid wisdom. 
I have not seen him all this winter, for I hear he is much out of 
town, and does not give due attendance to the House of Commons, 
because all things run counter to his opinion and party 1 ." 

Raworth's estimate of Robert's abilities was 
probably not far wrong. That the young man could 
lay no claim to anything that could by any stretch 
of imagination be described as solid wisdom is abun- 
dantly clear. But that he was not slow-witted was 
probably the case. He could make a good impression 
on strangers, when he thought it worth while to do 
so. George White, who had been supercargo to 
Governor Pitt on his last interloping expedition, 
wrote of him about this time : ' Your gentlemanly 
son, Mr. Robert Pitt, does indeed deserve the char- 
acter of a very ingenious person of very quick parts 2 /' 
He had already, as we have seen, impressed Sir Gilbert 
Dolben with a belief in his abilities. He seems to 
have been equally successful with Colonel Windham, 
who writes of him : " Your son, my opposite neigh- 
bour in Golden Square, lives very handsomely and 
in esteem with all good men, and also very happily 
with a good lady 3 "'; and again after he had retired 
into humbler quarters: "I assure you that the 
character I gave your son is short of his deserts : 
and as for good husbandry though, to be free with 

i Dropmore i. 27. 2 Dropmore i. 10. 

3 Dropmore i. 19. 


you, at his first coming over, he set up an equipage 
of some expence, yet not of more than what his owne 
and a prospect of addition of fortune from soe good 
and able a father may well Justine ; but all that is 
over, and now he does and for some time hath lived 
in as much retiredness as yourself would wish, and 
left this town ; and my brother Wadham, who is 
a good judge, takes often occasion to applaud his 
management both in economy and business of 
trade 1 ." 

In his retirement at Enfield, where, as he had in- 
formed his father, he had taken a house and gardens 
with 50 acres of land about it for 60 a year, at a 
place called Forty Hill, twelve miles from London 2 , 
Robert made a piteous appeal to his father in January 
1708. " Our concord," he writes, " will be a comfort 
to you, when you return ; and then I shall hope 
to be no longer the abandoned child of your family, 
the only one, who has no provision of bread made for 
him, his unfortunate wife, and three little children, 
although in the most need of all. I have been 
maligned to you as extravagant, without any grounds. 
My wife's fortune is untouched, and of my own I 
have spent 4000 in nearly five years of married life. 
If my marriage disobliged you at first, I am sure I 
have been sufficiently punished for it by daily anxieties 
of mind, which almost drive me to despair 3 ." 

Before this appeal reached India his father seems 
to have given him some assistance. For his mother, 
writing on the ist of August 1708, says: "I was 
overjoyed that your father was at last pleased to do 
a little for you as well as for your brothers and 
sisters, and dont in the least question but that he 
will increes yearly his genourosity to you all 4 ." 

This appeal of Robert to his father calls for some 

1 Dropmore i. 33. 2 Dropmore i. 25. 

8 Dropmore i. 34. Dropmore i. 35. 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 415 

comment. So far from exonerating him from the 
charge of extravagance for which he says there are 
no grounds, it is practically a confirmation of it. 
For he admits that in five years he had got rid of 
two-thirds of the property Vhich he had brought 
home. In considering his position, when he started 
on his married life, we must bear in mind the value 
of money in those days and the rate at which he had 
been living. The interest paid by Government on 
money borrowed by them during the reign of Queen 
Anne varied from 5 to 6 per cent. Robert there- 
fore would have had no difficulty in getting safely 
from the joint property of himself and his wife 
something between 400 and 480 a year, an income 
equal to the average income of an esquire and in 
excess of the average income of any other class in 
the community with the exception of the nobility, 
the bishops, the baronets and the knights. And yet 
by his own showing during the five years in question 
he had lived so far in excess of his means that he 
had got rid of 4000 of his capital ; and this not- 
withstanding the fact that his father, besides sending 
him valuable presents from time to time, had paid 
the whole expenses of his Parliamentary election. 

His suggestion that his father had treated his 
brothers and sisters more liberally than himself was 
equally baseless, and his father was fully justified 
in resenting it. " You have no reason/' he writes, 
" to grudge what I have done for your brothers and 
sisters, nor will I be tyed up by the direction of one 
child to what I shall doe for the others 1 /' His two 
brothers, Thomas and William, had been placed by 
Robert himself at a Mr Meure's academy, near Soho 
Square, where he had informed his father in 1703 
they had learnt " Latin, French and accounts, 
fencing, dancing and drawing/' William was now 

1 Dropmore i. 42. 


dead; and Thomas was apparently being still edu- 
cated at this academy. At this time the only provision 
made for his two sisters seems to have been an 
allowance of 100 a year apiece so long as they 
remained unmarried ; whilst Robert and Evans had 
been authorised to give them each a marriage 
portion of 6000, if they made suitable marriages. 
Robert had no reason whatever to complain of any 
of these arrangements. His father had given him a 
good education and an excellent start in life. It 
was entirely owing to his father's influence that he 
had had a very exceptional opportunity of acquiring 
a competence for himself at a very early age, and 
of returning from India when twenty-four years old 
with an independent fortune amply sufficient for 
his own immediate needs. He never seems after- 
wards to have earned anything or to have made any 
serious attempt to do so. Throughout his life he 
evidently entertained a very exaggerated idea of his 
own importance and merits, and very little respect 
for anybody's feelings except his own. He began by 
setting up an establishment at Golden Square, which 
had been recently built and was at that time inhabited 
by lords and ministers of state. Here, according 
to his friend and neighbour Colonel Windham, he 
lived " very handsomely/' His explanation of this 
egregious act of folly was that he desired to live " in 
a becoming manner." His father had been content 
to live in a less expensive quarter of the town ; but 
what was good enough for his parents with a large 
fortune was not good enough for himself and his 
wife with a small one. George White seems to have 
correctly described him as a " gentlemanly young 
man " ; and as such he seems to have looked down 
with some contempt on trade, to which he owed 
all that he had in the world, and all he was ever 
likely to have. He not improbably entertained a 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 417 

similar contempt for his father, whose rough and 
ready manners and plain common-sense must have 
sometimes been very repugnant to him. It is clear 
from his correspondence that he feared the Governor's 
wrath ; but there is no indication in so much of it 
as has survived that he entertained the smallest 
affection for him or indeed for any member of his 
family. To the day of his death he was constantly 
at enmity not only with his sisters and brothers, 
but also with his mother, whom in one of his last 
letters he calls contemptuously " Old Madam/' ex- 
pressing his resolution " to push things to all extrem- 
ities with her and all her gang be the consequence 
what it will 1 ." As the eldest son, he seems to have 
considered himself entitled to look down upon the 
rest of the family ; to have regarded the reversion 
to his father's riches as belonging as of right to him ; 
and to have grudged any money spent on any one 
else as unjustifiable extravagance. Although lavish 
in his own expenditure, he was almost incredibly 
mean in his money dealings not only with his brothers 
and sisters but also with his own children. Years 
afterwards, when he had succeeded to the bulk of 
the family property, he took his son William severely 
to task, because his college washing bill came to 
three and sixpence a week 2 ; and he cut down the 
allowance he had agreed to give his son Thomas for 
the grand tour on wholly inadequate grounds, at a 
time when he was himself in ample funds and could 
plead no such excuse as his own father had had for 
keeping down the expenses of his wife and children 3 . 
Apart from other considerations, there was one para- 
mount object which the Governor had to keep 
steadily in view during his later years in India, as 
he clearly explained to Robert in one of his letters. 

1 Dropmore i. 86. 2 Rosebery 35, 36. 

3 Dropmore i. 80 83. 

D. 2 7 


" Can you be so voyd of sense/' he wrote to him 
towards the end of his Governorship, " as not to 
see what I have been doing ever since I was soe 
fortunate as to purchase that Grand Concern, which 
has been my utmost endeavour to acquire such a 
competency as to be able to provide for my family, 
without being put under a necessity to dispose of 
that affair at an under rate, or it would have been 
of as little advantage to me, as if I had partners 
therein : which I thank God I have effected, if no 
extraordinary misfortune happens : soe as soon as 
I come home and get my estate remitted, I will 
make you and your family easy, to which you should 
think of contributing, not as yet having heard that 
you have turned one penny in trade since you left 
me. Always spending and nothing coming in will 
soon waste a bigger estate than I have got, and what 
I want a good purchase for is chiefly to settle you 1 /' 
Realising as he must have done how essential to 
his interests it was to remain on good terms with 
his father, it seems a little strange that he should 
have taken the opposite side in politics. His father 
was a stubborn Whig, with a profound belief that all 
Tories were Jacobites. When Robert returned to 
England the Tories were in power ; and as yet had 
won no conspicuous success in the war with France. 
In September 1704, the Governor had written home, 
:< I like not the face of our public affairs abroad or 
at home. God send a miracle to save Old England 
at last/' A month before these words were penned 
the miracle had happened. The battle of Blenheim 
had been fought and won. The next year he must 
have taken a rosier view of the political situation. 
For in the General Election of 1705, at which Robert 
had been elected for Old Sarum, the Whigs had come 
in with a large majority ; and thenceforth the war 

1 Dropmore i. 42. 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 419 

with France was prosecuted with vigour and success, 
greatly we may be sure to the satisfaction of the 
Governor ; but it would appear to the disgust of 
Robert, who soon gave up regular attendance at the 
House of Commons because " all things ran counter 
to his opinion and party/' Some good-natured 
friend seems to have informed the Governor about 
this time that his son was intriguing to bring the 
Pretender to the throne. For he writes to Robert 
from Fort St George, " It is said you are taken up 
with factious caballs and are contriveing amongst 
you to put a French kickshaw upon the throne againe, 
for no true English heart as the present Queen has 
(and pursues no other interest than that of her own 
nation) can please your party. If I find or hear of 
any child of mine that herds with any to oppose her 
present Majesty's interest, I will renounce him for 
ever 1 /' 

But what must constantly have annoyed his 
father during the whole of his stay in India more 
than any differences of opinion in party politics, 
was the persistent neglect of his son to send him 
detailed information as to the conduct of his business; 
to write to him regularly ; or even to deliver the 
letters which had been entrusted to him to forward 
to relatives and friends. " I can't but resent," the 
Governor writes to his brother-in-law Robert Douglas, 
V the negligence of my Sone in not sending your 
letter, and I believe many others that I sent by him 
had the same fate 2 ." " The Horsham and Anna left 
England," he writes to his son in February 1704, 
" in April, by neither of which I had a line from you." 
Again in 1708 3 . " The Despatch Galley arrived here 
a few days since from Bengal without a line from any 
of you. This is hard measure. How can a man govern 

1 Dropmore i. 39- 2 Hedges 3. 94- 

3 Dropmore i. 14, 38. 



himself in his affairs when his correspondents will 
not advise him what they receive or how they dispose 
of anything ? for this is my case/' Again, " What 
is the reason you have not advised me of the receipt 
or disposall of any goods I particularly consigned to 
you, though you have wrote me two or three letters 
since ? Did you ever give me an account of my 
estates or any one affair that I have trusted you 
with? Since you left me, have you given me a 
plenary account of any particular affair? 1 " The 
references which he makes in his correspondence 
to these persistent omissions might be almost in- 
definitely multiplied. 

Nor were they atoned for by any of the little 
unexpected attentions which so many fathers in 
exile occasionally receive from their children at 
home. He was constantly sending home presents, 
some of them of great value, to his relations and 
friends ; and many of his friends sent him very 
welcome presents in return. But we hear of nothing 
of the kind reaching him from Robert, for whom he 
had done so much. " Have you ever/' he asks him 
in one letter, " sent me one book of esteem, or as 
much as one drop of curious liquor, or any thing 
else delightfull in these parts ? 2 " Such surprises as 
he did occasionally receive from his son in the way 
of his personal necessaries were of a less agreeable 
nature. When shoes and gloves, for which he had 
written home and which he was anxiously expecting, 
reached him, he was on one occasion unable to get 
them on. ' The Gloves and Shoes are much too 
little for me/' he writes, " and that my Son could 
not but know, who should send me every thing accord- 
ing to the list I gave him 8 ." Sometimes the supply 
of his " wearable stores " as he calls them, seems to 

1 Dropmore i. 39. 2 Dropmore i. 40. 

3 Hedges 3-93- 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 421 

have failed altogether. " Can find no box or chest/' 
he writes, " of the hatts, perewigs, &ca you usually 
sent me so beleive it lost or spoilt. This is the effect 
of your great care of my necessarys which are not 
a little valuable when wanted. I here write you 
a little, but think the more 1 ." 

It is a pleasant feature in the Governor's charac- 
ter that he was himself more thoughtful of the needs 
of the poorer members of his family in England 
than his wife and children were of his. 

" I would desire you," he writes to Robert in January 1708, 
" to have some regard to your uncle and aunt Willis. She is 
the only sister I have alive, and if they have a daughter, I should 
take it kindly if your wife would take her into her house and give 
her a reputable education, which charge I will willingly allow 
you, and help her sons what you can, and remember that wee are 
not borne only for our selves nor has God Almighty bestowed 
this plentifull fortune on mee to give it only amongst my own 
children, but alsoe necessitous relations and friends, which I will 
not faill to doe for His glory, and my own comfort and happi- 
ness If ever you intend to be great, you must be first 

good, and that will bring with it everlasting greatness, and with- 
out it it will be but a bubble blown away with the least blast. 

I assure you nothing soe chagrines me as when I have a 

doubt upon me of the well fare of my children 2 /' 

Willis and his wife were, it will be remembered, 
living at Blandford St Mary in the Rectory where 
the Governor was born. A year later he writes 
again, " I would have you put your uncle Willis's 
youngest son to a very good school in the country, 
and maintain him at my charge, because I intend 
to educate him and start him in the world 3 ." Some 
years before he had written to his son: "I would 
have you send to Cousin Cradock at Blandford 20 
to be given to cousins Thorne and Obourne, for 
I believe they are in great want ; therefore hasten 
it to them 4 /' And before this, we have a letter 

1 Hedges 3. 115. 2 Dropmore i. 35. 

Dropmore i. 40. 4 Dropmore i. 26. 


from him to his cousin Cradock : "I cant but re- 
member the condition of Cozen John Forme and his 
sister Temperaunce Cockram, her name since married 
I have forgott, to each of which I have advis'd your 
son Richard to pay 'em ten pounds out of the 
produce of some small concernes I have consigned 
him 1 ." 

Robert's quarrels with his family at last compelled 
his father to place his brothers and sisters under the 
care of their uncle Curgenven and George Pitt of 
Strathfieldsay, the head of the Pitt family 2 . It 
would perhaps have been better for all parties if he 
had done so earlier. It appears from a letter of 
Robert's, in January 1708, that Curgenven " having 
fallen blind " was incapable of discharging the trust 
thus reposed in him ; but that " George Pitt had 
shown himself friendly and zealous for the good of 
the family above expectation 3 /' It was no easy task 
that he had undertaken ; but he seems to have dis- 
charged it to the satisfaction of all parties. It was 
probably by his influence that the Governor's chil- 
dren were induced to write to their father in the 
February of that year the joint letter of contrition 
expressing their sorrow for their unnatural discords 
and their resolution to live in harmony for the future ; 
and that the Governor's daughters Essex and Lucy 
were persuaded to live with Robert at Enfield for a 
while. Unfortunately they seem to have found the 
position intolerable and went back to their mother 
after a few months. In November 1708, Robert 
writes to his father, " My sisters continued to reside 
with my wife till last month, when contrary to the 
directions of their guardians " (George Pitt and Cur- 
genven) " they went to live with my mother, who 
has a house upon the Upper Terrace of St James' 

1 Hedges 3. 99. 2 Dropmore i. 22. 

3 Dropmore i. 34. 

xxiv] ROBERT PITT 423 

Street. They say that your letters give them liberty 
to choose where they will live : and there has been 
no quarrel or disagreement between us. My mother 
has given up to them the 200 a year, which you 
allow her, having sufficient of her own to maintain 
herself and them 1 /' The Governor having expressed 
a desire that his youngest son John, now twelve years 
old, should go to the best school in England, arrange- 
ments were made to send him to Eton. A captaincy 
in the Duke of Ormond's troop of Guards was bought 
for Thomas, the second son, now twenty-two years 
of age. This appointment involved occasional attend- 
ance on the Queen's person ; and as the expenses 
of the post exceeded the emoluments, the pay and 
allowances not exceeding 14 shillings a day, the 
guardians agreed to give him an allowance of 400 
a year, his father having expressed a wish that he 
should not be " soe necessitated as to put him upon 
doing ill things or appear shabbily/' 

With the arrangements thus made for his two 
younger sons, the Governor seems to have been fully 
satisfied. But, as might have been expected, he 
strongly resented the decision of his two daughters 
to return to their mother, a step which it appears 
that George Pitt had vainly endeavoured to dis- 
suade them from taking, knowing that it would be 
certainly construed by their father as an indi- 
cation that they were siding with their mother 
against him. 

1 Dropmore I. 38. 



THOMAS PITT'S return to England was a very 
tedious business. It took him very little less than 
a twelvemonth to accomplish. The war with France 
still lingered on ; and East Indiamen were prizes 
eagerly sought after. It was fortunate for him that 
he did not meet with the fate which befell poor Sir 
John Gayer that same year, whose vessel was attacked 
by four French ships off Cape Comorin, and taken 
after a desperate defence, in which Gayer was so 
seriously wounded that he died whilst a prisoner in 
the enemy's hands. With a view to minimising as 
far as possible the chance of such mishaps to the 
Company's ships in the Eastern seas, Pitt seems to 
have come to an amicable understanding with Jean 
Baptiste Martin, the famous Director General of the 
Royal East India Company at Pondicherry, with the 
object of preserving French and English trade in 
India from the ruin in which both might have been 
involved, if the two Companies had taken any active 
part in the war 1 . "It is well knowne," he writes, 
:< wee had no force to preserve the Company's 
ships nor their forts from insults, for which reason 
I found out a way to establish such a correspondence 
as effected both, to the admiration not only of our 
owne inhabitants, but of all the Country about us, 
by which I (under God) preserved not onely 3,024 
of their richest ships, but alsoe their settlements 

1 Dropmore i. 46. 


from utter ruine." It would seem from this that 
Pitt and Martin, by far the most eminent Europeans 
of their generation in India, were each so anxious to 
preserve the interests of his own Company that they 
had agreed to work together for that end, though 
they must have been aware that in doing so they 
ran the risk of getting into serious trouble with 
their Home Governments. The alternative was the 
destruction of the trade of both ; for neither was as 
yet strong enough to bring about the subjection of 
its rival. It seems to have been this irregular com- 
pact which Pitt's opponents had in mind, when they 
boasted that they had enough against him to take 
his life, but that they believed that the forfeiting of 
his estate might save him. This is the more likely 
because Pitt, in the same letter in which he alludes 
to this threat, writes, " When Madame Martin and 
other ladies were at Maderas, none of these wretches 
by their wives or otherwise would pay them common 
civility but kept a diary of those that did." 

What the precise terms, if any, of the convention 
were can only be conjectured from its effect, which 
seems to have been that English East Indiamen en- 
joyed comparative immunity from capture in the 
Eastern seas, and that the French privateers and 
men-of-war contented themselves as a general rule 
with seizing such Dutch prizes as they could find there. 
It is clear, however, from the capture by the French 
of the ship in which Gayer was coming home that 
year, that it could not be relied upon as a complete 
protection of English vessels in that part of the world. 
It was of course no protection whatever except in 
Eastern waters ; and during the three months that 
Pitt spent in the great cabin of the Heathcote before 
getting to the Cape, he had ample time to reflect 
over the important question, what course it would be 
prudent for him to take, for the remainder of his 


voyage. His own personal experiences of capture by 
the French in the last war may have made him keenly 
alive to the desirability of avoiding any repetition of 
them. For he was now bringing home with him all his 
personal belongings at Fort St George, including, we 
may safely assume, a well selected assortment of 
diamonds and other marketable merchandise. 

It would seem from his correspondence that he 
had for some time past had in contemplation the 
possibility of coming back to Europe in a Danish 
ship, which belonging to a neutral power would not 
be liable to capture by the French ; and it is not 
improbable that he might have waited at Fort St 
George for an opportunity of doing so, if it had not 
been for his anxiety to get away from India as soon 
as possible after his deposition. 

He reached the Cape on the I5th of January, and 
found there the Dutch General of Batavia with nine 
ships under his command. He says, " I waited on 
him, who gave me a very polish reception.. . .What 
I heard was that hee was very angry that our ships 
were not taken by the French as well as theirs 1 /' 
He also says, " At the Cape in October last, advices 
had arrived from Holland that we had been very 
barbarous to the Dutch in the West Indies. I do 
verily believe that if the fleet sailing from the Cape 
should meet with a French squadron, they would 
sacrifice every ship of ours, if it can be done without 
prejudice to themselves." 

The consciousness of his questionable compact 
with Martin, and his suspicions of the resentment of 
the Dutch General, were not calculated to encourage 
him to remain on board the Heathcote, which was 
about to avail herself of the protection of the Dutch 
fleet. He therefore took the opportunity of a Danish 
ship being about to sail, to transfer himself and his 

1 Dropmore i. 45, 47. 


belongings to her, leaving the Heathcote behind 
' To prevent a long delay," he writes, " I took my 
passage thence on a Danes' ship " ; and again 
' Hearing that there was no peace, nor any likeli- 
hood of it, and our ship being not a little cranke . . . 
induced me to take my passage in a neutrall ship 
from Tringombar." Other reasons which may have 
weighed with him in coming to this decision, may 
have been his desire to avoid the humiliation of 
being brought home on board a ship named after 
his mortal enemy ; the apprehension that he might 
have to pay heavy custom duties on the property 
he had with him ; and the hope that he might make 
more by selling so much of it as he cared to dispose 
of in Holland than he was likely to obtain for it in 
London. Four years before he seems to have enter- 
tained the same design, for he had written on the 
i6th of January 1706, " I hold lo my resolution of 
leaving for England next September, and not know- 
ing but that I may go to Holland from the Cape, 
would have you lodge letters for me there in good 
hands, with information as to whom I may trust 
anything of value 1 ." 

" My coming home in this manner 2 ," he says in his letter to 
his son Robert from the Norwegian coast on the 3Oth of May, 
" will amuse them at the East India House, of which inform 
yourself and advise me As I may sell something consider- 
able abroad, inquire what goods from Denmark, Hamburgh or 
Holland turn to good account in England, or how returns may 
be made to the best advantage ; whether money is to be got 
by buying silver in Holland, and whether better in dollars or 
ingots : but be careful not to trust any one who will betray you 
to our Company, and that they do not intercept our letters." 
" Wee made," he goes on, " St. Hellina March 5, and Assention 

March 14 Wee came about Shettland May 17, and the next 

day mett with a small Danes' vessell from Bergen bound for 
France, who told us of the warr betweene them and the Swede, 
when wee endeavoured to fetch that port, but when wee came in 

1 Dropmore i. 18. 2 Dropmore i. 46, 47. 


with the land, found ourselves to the Southward about 10 Eng- 
lish leagues, soe that the pylott which came off harboured us 
among the rocks the 2ist. at noone and how long wee may lye 
here God knows. The 25th att night Mr. Fenwick went up to 
Bergen, and last night (the 29th) hee advised mee of a ship going 
to Newcastle, by which this comes. I shall make all the haste 
I can home with security, for all these parts are in warrs, and 
believe I should meete but with course quarter if I fell into any 
of their hands." 

At the same time, as appears from the Court 
Book of the East India Company, he wrote to the 
Court advising them of the deaths of Gulston Addi- 
son and Mr Ralph Sheldon, the President of their 
Council in Bengal, and informing them of the recru- 
descence of the quarrels between the Right and Left 
Hand Castes 1 . 

Ultimately he got to Bergen, from which place 
he wrote to his son on the 2Oth of June : 

"I hope some of my letters are arrived before this with you, 
for God knows when wee shall gett from this place. The posts 
to Copenhagen are very uncertaine and tedious: not heareing 
yett from the Directors though wee wrote them by ship and post 
on our arrivall. 

Wee are alarmed with variety of news, but none good for 

us Yesterday wee had news by a Russ that the Confederate 

army was intirely routed (which God forbid) for from what I can 
heare and inferr from the sermon of Dr. Sacheverell, which is 
printed in high Dutch, and makes a great noyse in these parts, 
our nation is ripe for confusion and destruction, which God 
prevent, and I hope noe child or relation of mine will have a 
finger in it. 

We hear of a Swedish armament directed against this place, 
and also of French and Swedish privateers on this coast, soe 
wish I may not pay deare for my hastning home and find that 
I have leaped out of the frying pan into the fire 2 ." 

The predicament in which he now found himself 
was indeed an awkward one. One of his main motives 
for coming home in a Danish ship had been to avoid 
being captured by a French privateer. He now had 
to face the risk of being captured not only by French 

1 Hedges 3. 121. 2 Dropmore i. 46, 47. 


but also by Swedish privateers, to say nothing of 
the prospect of a siege of Bergen by the Swedes. 
Had any one of these mishaps occurred, he would 
in all probability have lost the greater part if not 
the whole of the " something considerable " that he 
was bringing home from India. It is not therefore 
strange that he bitterly resented his enforced deten- 
tion at Bergen which he speaks of as " this melan- 
choly place of Bergen." Even if he had been free 
from apprehensions of capture, it is unlikely that 
he would have derived much gratification from the 
contemplation of the beauties of the Norwegian 
coast scenery, so much admired by English tourists 
of the present day, who visit it at about the same sea- 
son of the year as that in which he first made his 
acquaintance with it, " harboured among the rocks 
by the pilot " as he describes his fate, when safely 
anchored in a glorious fiord. Wild, rocky scenery 
had little attraction for Englishmen of those days. 
But irritating as it must have been to remain in 
Norway at this critical time, he seems to have had 
no desire to cross to England on any one of the ships 
that took his correspondence to London, and he 
stuck firmly to his intention to get to Copenhagen 
with his property and thence to Amsterdam. He 
had no doubt good reasons for doing so. The latest 
news which he had had from London was more than 
a year old ; and apart from his desire to dispose in 
Holland of the property which he was bringing 
home with him, he may well have been doubtful 
of the reception that awaited him when he got to 
London. His son had warned him, in November 
1708, that his enemies on the Court had not scrupled 
to say that the Company ought to seize upon his 
person and effects 1 ; and the conspirators at Fort St 
George had also boasted " that they were sure they 

1 Dropmore i. 37. 


had enough against him to take his life, but they 
believed that the forfeiting of his estate might save 
him." In his first letter to his son Robert from Nor- 
way, he says, " Be sure to let me know who was for 
seizing my person and effects and the names of all 
those who have been doing me good or eville offices 
with the Company/' It was of importance to him to 
know, before he came home, whether any and, if so, 
what steps had been taken to enforce these threats. 
For the arrangement into which he had entered with 
Martin at Pondicherry might well have been used as 
a handle against him ; and for anything that he knew 
to the contrary, legal proceedings might already have 
been commenced by the Government against him in 
consequence of it. It is clear also that he feared that 
awkward questions might be raised on the informa- 
tion sent home to the Company by Fraser and Seaton 
with respect to the great diamond ; and he accord- 
ingly on his first arrival on the coast on the 3oth of 
May, before reaching Bergen, sent the following order 
to Evans, Dolben and his son : " For some particular 
reasons with which I shall acquaint you when wee 
meete, I desire you, upon receipt of this to deliver 
to my kinsman George Pitt my large diamond cutt 
into a brillion by Mr. Cope, weighing about one hun- 
dred and thirty six carratts 1 ." In a letter of the same 
date he explained to his son Robert that he wished 
' this to be done with all possible secresye, as soon 
as you receive this letter ; and this to prevent any 
trouble that may be given by the Company upon 
those villaines' information from abroad ; but of this 
I would not have you speake a word to Mr. Dolben 
nor Sir Stephen, till Cousin George Pitt have secured 
it. In case of his mortallity, it is to be delivered to 
you, who are to follow the directions I have wrote 
him : and if you have a modell of it by you, or can 

1 Dropmore i. 47. 


get one made immediately, send it to mee " (at 
Copenhagen) " with my first letters : gett Mr. Cope 
to cutt two or three in crystyall." 
In the same letter he writes : 

''Send me full advices of all my affairs, and a letter of credit 
for 1000 to the care of our envoy at Copenhagen, and the same 
to Amsterdam, also a list of the Parliament men, and of the 
directors since the union of the Companies. If there be any 
vacancy for a Parliament man, set me chosen if you can do so 
honourably : but let my intimating it be a Secret. Have your 
eye on some good and reputable lodgings for me in the city, and 
provide me with two footmen and a valet, trusty and such as 
have been in good families, brisk and cleanly fellows, and give 
them my livery in plain and good cloth. Pray gett me a neate 

campagne perwigg not too bushy nor too long Be sure to 

send me the prices current of all diamonds ; and I enjoy ne you 
by all that is good to send mee the true state of my family and 
omit nothing good or bad ; but keepe to the truth, distinguishing 
what you know of a certainty and report, and if you conceale 
anything from mee I shall resent it as the worst of usage 1 ." 

A passage in the letter which he had written on 
the same day to his trustees Evans, Dolben and 
Robert Pitt shows that the fears which George Pitt 
had entertained, that the action taken by his daugh- 
ters in leaving Enfield and going to reside with their 
mother in London would not be welcome to their 
father, were well founded. " I observe/' he writes, 
" the disorders in my family and the deference they 
paid to my orders about their allowances, for which 
I have discarded them for ever ; therefore desire 
that upon the beginning of their quarter after the 
receipt of this, you pay each of them quarterly, the 
mother and two daughters, twelve pounds ten shil- 
lings, and noe more will I allow them whilst I live, 
and I have made the same provision for them in my 
will : and for fortunes I will not give them a penny 
unless my cousin Pitt has gone soe far as to ingage 
his honour in a match, then that must and shall be 

1 Dropmore i. 46, 47. 


made good. Amongst the alterations you have made 
since I left you I hope there is noe law for wives and 
children to carve for themselves/' 

But the most important of the documents written 
by the Governor at Bergen is his narrative of the 
circumstances connected with his purchase of the 
Pitt diamond. This has already been given in full 
in Chapter XIV of the present work. It will be 
noted that it is dated the 2Qth of July, nearly two 
months after his first arrival in Norway. How 
much longer he remained at Bergen does not appear. 
The next authentic news we have of his proceed- 
ings is contained in a letter to Harley from John 
Drummond, a Scotch merchant and banker, settled 
in Amsterdam. This letter is dated the I2th of 
September, and the following passage occurs in it : 
" Governor Pitt from the East Indies is safe arrived 
here, and being recommended by Sir Steven Evans 
and several others to me I think I have made him 
yours and have drunk your health heartily with him. 
He will have a powerful purse in England and be a 
thorn in the side of some great men now at the head 
of the Bank and India Company, if they thwart 
you. Therefore if you can get him chosen in Cornwall 
pray do, for he will be more useful to you than ever 
Dolben was to your predecessor, and I hope you will 
make a better use of him. He will be here yet ten 
or fourteen days if not three weeks, and then for 
England 1 ." 

It is clear from this letter written shortly after 
the Governor's arrival in Amsterdam, that his pro- 
ject for hastening home from the Cape on a Danish 
ship, so far from expediting his arrival in London, 
had greatly delayed it. For he had taken at least 
ten months and a half in getting from Madras to 
Holland. But now that he had at last reached 

1 Welbeck MSS. 4. 594. 


Amsterdam safely with his diamonds and other port- 
able Eastern valuables, he can have had little reason 
to regret his delay. Armed as he was with letters of 
credit from Queen Anne's jeweller and other men 
of substance and standing in London, advices as to 
the current prices of diamonds, and the Dutch goods 
most likely to turn to good account in England, 
provided with introductions to the Dutch merchants 
most to be trusted, furnished with models in crystal 
of his great diamond, his mind freed from all anxieties 
in respect of prosecutions or attempts to seize his 
property by the East India Company, and assured 
as he probably by this time was that his great con- 
cern was safely in the keeping of George Pitt, he 
must have felt greatly relieved; and there can be 
little doubt that he thoroughly enjoyed his stay at 
Amsterdam and made the most of his opportunities 
there. Apart from its other attractions, Amsterdam 
was then the head centre in Europe not only of the 
diamond merchants and diamond cutters, but also 
of every branch of the Eastern trade. During his 
stay there we may be sure that he learned much and 
did good business. Drummond, who was in the close 
confidence of Harley and St John, with both of whom 
he was in constant correspondence, was generally 
recognised as one of the ablest of their English envoys 
on the Continent ; and at this juncture he had evi- 
dently good reasons of his own for cordially helping 
the Governor in every way by introductions and 
otherwise. For a very serious political crisis had 
arisen in England. The Queen who had long been 
slowly coming round to the matured opinion of King 
Solomon that " it is better to live on the house top 
than with a scolding woman in a great house/' had 
finally broken with the Duchess of Marlborough, and 
was now for the first time for many years enjoying 
the blessedness of domestic peace and quietness under 




the benign influence of complaisant Mrs Masham and 
her cousin Robert Harley. By the machinations of 
the latter, Godolphin had been dismissed from his 
office of Treasurer on the 4th of August, whilst Pitt 
was still presumably at Bergen. The other leading 
Whig Ministers remained for a few weeks longer in 
office ; and Harley who had practically become 
Prime Minister, having been appointed Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, had entered into secret overtures 
with them for the formation of a Coalition Ministry, 
assuring them that " there was a Whig game intended 
at bottom x / ' Drummond was no doubt fully informed 
of these proceedings ; and he seems from the above 
letter to have taken Thomas Pitt into his confidence, 
laying stress no doubt on Harley's assurances that 
the new Coalition Ministry would be ' Whig at 
bottom," and the fact that Somers, Cowper, Halifax, 
and most of the less important members of the Whig 
Ministry were still continuing in office. Sir Gilbert 
Heathcote, the Governor's mortal enemy, to whom 
he owed his recent humiliating dismissal from the 
East India Company's service, was now Governor 
not only of the Company, but also of the Bank of 
England. The prospect of assisting the Prime 
Minister by becoming a thorn in the side of this man, 
who had done him so much mischief, must have been 
a great temptation to Pitt, to which he might well 
have succumbed, if it had been found practicable 
to constitute the proposed Coalition Ministry. It 
is not therefore likely that Drummond was very far 
wrong in telling Harley that he thought he had 
won the Governor over, nor did the yielding of the 
Governor to his solicitations necessarily imply any 
disloyalty to the Whig party. 

The overtures, however, soon fell through. Somers 
and Cowper were obdurate, and resigned their offices. 

1 Stanhope 439. 


Young Robert Walpole, Secretary of State for War 
whose rising talents had not escaped the notice of 
Harley, who told him on this occasion, "You are 
worth half your party/' followed suit 1 ; and after 
some hesitation Halifax did the same. Harley 
compelled to give up all thoughts of a Coalition fell 
back wholly on the Tories. A general election was 
unavoidable. Parliament was dissolved on the 2ist 
of September. Five days afterwards the writs were 
issued and the new Parliament summoned for the 
25th of November. 

These rapid changes in the political situation 
must have finally disposed of any expectations that 
Drummond may have entertained of enlisting the 
Governor as a supporter of the Harley administration 
and removed any necessity for Pitt to look about for 
any seat other than Old Sarum. A few weeks after- 
wards he was returned once more unopposed as 
member for that borough, and his son Robert, no 
doubt by his father's influence, became at the same 
time member for Salisbury. The Governor did not 
apparently get back to England until October ; for 
in a letter to his daughters from George Pitt, dated 
from Strathfieldsay on the 5th of that month, the 
following passage occurs 2 . " On the receipt of a letter 
from your father, at his landing in Norway, full of 
resentment towards you, I did, by the first oppor- 
tunity, doe you the best service I could to him by 

letter 1 have since had another from him, which 

gives me hope it may be in the power of friends to 
pacific your father, whose present displeasure seems 
to be founded on your disobeying his orders, which 
you cannot but remember I sufficiently cautioned 
you against. I have now nothing but to repeat. . . 
that you will both continue with your brother till 
you receive other commands from your father. And 

1 Coxe's Life of Walpole, I. 32 2 Dropmore i. 49. 



. . .pray keep a good correspondence with your 
brother, for the harmony your father will find 
amongst you will contribute more to the healing of 
the unhappy differences that have bin in your family, 
than all the endeavours of your friends together/' 
It is probable that this admirable advice was 
followed and that their father on reaching London 
found brother and sisters living for a while together 
in unity. For as will be seen his reconciliation with 
his daughters was soon effected, and he remained on 
good terms with them and their children for the 
remainder of his life. 



THE general election of 1710, disastrous as it was 
for the time being to the Whig party, was not in- 
opportune for the personal interests of Thomas Pitt. 
It secured for him promptly and almost automatically 
a safe seat in Parliament and brought him at once 
into close touch with the leading Whig politicians 
of the day. In view of the serious issues pending 
between them and their opponents, the continuance 
of the war with France and the maintenance of the 
Protestant succession, the prospect of any question 
being raised in Parliament with reference either to 
the irregular compact which he had made with the 
French Company in India, or to the legality of his 
acquisition of his famous diamond had become 
remote. Heathcote, his arch enemy, was like himself 
a strong Whig, and must have fully realised that no 
advantage was likely to accrue either to his party 
or to himself from any attempt to wash the dirty 
linen of his Company on the floor of the House of 
Commons. Apart from this consideration the Direc- 
tors had already begun to regret the action they had 
taken in deposing their late Governor at the instance 
of such obscure and untrustworthy advisers as Gough 
and Braddyll ; and they may well have desired to 
get on better terms with him. ' It was one thing to 
send out to India depreciatory despatches to which 
no reply could possibly arrive for a year or more ; 
and another to confront their late Governor in person, 


back in London in the House of Commons, freed 
from their control, with his riches safely hived. They 
knew by experience that he was not a man to be 
trifled with ; and that he had powerful friends and 
a very unpleasant habit of getting his own way with 
his enemies. Moreover the condition of their affairs 
in India, brought about by the unexpected deaths 
of Gulston Addison, Brabourne and Sheldon, and the 
impotence of Fraser, had made his advice and assist- 
ance a matter of importance to them. They had 
already decided to depose Fraser, and had appointed 
as his successor President Harrison, an old friend 
and protege of Pitt, now as it happened in London. 
Harrison had entered their service in 1700, and had 
gone out to Fort St George with strong recommenda- 
tions from Samuel Pepys and William Hewer. The 
relations of the three men to Pitt and the obligations 
of Harrison to him may be gathered from the follow- 
ing extracts from their correspondence. 

Letter from Governor Pitt to William Hewer Esquire London 1 . 

"Fort St George, 

October 22, 1701. 

I Received the Honour of yours of the 22nd of December 
last in behalfe of Mr Harrison, who I immediately on his arrivall 
sent 4th of Councill to Metchlepatam, and shall take all oppor- 
tunities to encourage and preferr him or any one else that your 
Selfe or Mr Pepys Shall recommend, for whome I have a very 
great honour and esteem, desireing you'll be pleas'd to give my 
most humble service to him and accept the same your Selfe 
from me." 

Letter from Samuel Pepys Esq r to Governor Pitt a . 

"Clapham, Wednesday, 
March 3rd, 1703. 


I could not lett the present opportunity slipp of re- 
turning you my most thankfull Acknowledgements of the most 
convincing Instances of your Respects, shewen mee, in your 
letter to my friend Mr Hewer ; by whiche I understand the 

1 Hedges 3. 69. 2 Hedges 3. 81 

xxvi] AGAIN AT HOME 439 

earlely markes of your Favour express'd to Mr Harrison, and 
therein to my small part of the Recommendations hee attended 
you with from England, which as I shall allways inculcate to 
him the weight of his Obligations to your Selfe for, and the 
reasonablenesse of his endeavouring by all methods of Obedience 
and service to the Company and you, to merit the same, Soe 
should I bee most glad if any Comands from you, by which 
I might have opportunity of expressing my Esteeme of your 
Favours soe bestow'd and continued in him there, by the effects 
of my ready Services on all occasions to you here : whose Pros- 
perity and Health I am heartily a well wisher to, and rest 
Your most obliged and most faythfull 
humble Servant, 

S. Pepys." 

Letter from Governor Pitt to William Hewer Esq, London 1 . 

"Fort St George, 

Sept. ye 8th. 1705. 

I Received the honour of your I5th of Jan r y last by the 
ffleett ffrigott, who arrived here the 27th of June, and am sorry 
for the death of that Honble and worthy Gentleman, Mr Pepys, 
and for Mr Harrison, he shall never want my Friendship, who 
is now at Fort St Davids in a post to his own Satisfaction and 
as he desired." 

Governor Pitt's first interview with the Directors 
after his return seems to have taken place on his own 
initiative about three weeks after the general election. 
The following is the minute in the Court Book of the 
Company relating to it, dated the 2Oth of December 

"The Court being informed that the late President of Fort 
St George, Mr Pitt, had Some things to acquaint the Company 
withall for their Service, if any Gentlemen were appointed to 
meet him, ordered 

That the Chairman, Mr Nethaniel Herne, Mr Coulson, Mr 
Lyell, Mr Shepheard, Mr Alderman Ward, Mr Dawsonne and 
Mr Page, or any Three of them, be desired to discourse Mr Pitt 
thereupon, and to make Report, And that Mr President Harrison 
be present thereat 2 ." 

1 Hedges 3. 100. 2 Hedges 3. 120, 121. 


Some months later, on the 7th of May 1711, Pitt 
had another interview with the Directors, the result 
of which is thus entered in the Court Book : 

"Letter from the President and Councill of Fort St George, 
Dated the 22nd June 1700, received by the Abingdon, being 
read together with the Translate of a Letter received therewith 
from the said President and Councill, which Letter was sent to 
them by the Duan Saudatulla Cawn, relating to a great Diamond 
which he demands should be sent to the Mogull ; and Thomas 
Pitt Esqr., late Governor of Fort St George comeing into Court 
and being acquainted with the said letter of Duan Saudatulla 
Cawn and the Clause in the Generall Letter, and having dis- 
coursed with the Court thereupon, and of other matters relating 
to their Affairs at Fort St George, Ordered That it be referred 
to the Committee of Correspondence, to draw up a Letter to be 
sent to Fort St George, on the Debate of the Court, in answer to 
the aforesaid Generall Letter, and the Letter from the Duan 1 ." 

The clause in the General Letter of the Council 
of Fort St George to which reference is made in this 
minute, was as follows 2 : 

"Fort St George. Consultation, primo June 1710. Present, 
W m Fraser Esqre, Governour and President, etc. 

The President produces a Letter from the Duan received 
by a Brammeny attended with six horse, intimating something 
of a great Dyamond, but soe intricate and obscure wee cant 
perfectly tell his meaning. Translate of which is entered after 
this Consultation." 


"From Duan Sadatula Cawn, received 3oth May, 1710. 

All Health. I formerly wrote you about the Hosbullhookum 
I received from Court seal'd with the Kings Jewellers Jevoyhee 
Cawnes Seal, that Rama Chundra Voggee had given a bond to 
the Court about the Diamond that was brought, so I hope you 
will observe it, and I received a Strict order from said Jeweller 
to send up that Diamond to the King with all speed, therefore 
I have sent Mooro Pundit to you, and as soone as you receive 
this send up said Diamond with all care under your seal, being 
there is still a friendship between Us, soe don't delay sending 
said Diamond, for this is Extraordinary business relating to the 
King. What can I write more ? " 

1 Hedges 3. 122. 2 Hedges 3. 121. 

xxvi] AGAIN AT HOME 441 

This malicious attempt on the part of Fraser and 
Seaton to injure his reputation and involve him in 
difficulty with the Directors, gave the Governor 
what must have been a very welcome opportunity 
of disposing once and for all of the libellous rumours, 
which had been so persistently disseminated by his 
enemies at home with respect to his great concern. 
As has been seen 1 , he had been careful to retain in 
his custody the letters written by two of his colleagues 
on the Council of Fort St George, Raworth and Coppin, 
which he had placed before the Council at their 
meeting of the nth of August, 1709, and which had 
proved conclusively to the satisfaction of every 
member of the Council that Seaton had been treacher- 
ously corresponding with the native authorities with 
the object of stirring up difficulties on their part 
in the matter of the diamond. He had now the 
opportunity, of which there can be little doubt that 
he availed himself, of producing these letters, exposing 
to the members of the Court as much as he thought 
desirable of the machinations of Fraser and Seaton, 
and explaining not only his own position with respect 
to the diamond, but also the mischiefs that might 
be done to the Company, if their subordinate servants 
were allowed to correspond in this way with the 
native authorities. The result of this interview 
appears in the following extract from the General 
Letter sent out by the Court to India, which might 
almost have been drafted by Pitt himself. 

"Your I5th Paragraph," the Court say, "of the Abingdon 
Letter mentions the Letter from the Duan Sadatulla Cawn and 
that it is very ambiguous and intricate, relating to a great 
Diamond belonging to the King which you know not what to 
make of, perhaps some of the Persons who signed that letter 
do not, but wee apprehended those who have Supported Captain 
Seaton are let further into the Secrett. What is incumbent on you 
is to prevent every handle the Moors may take to embarrass us, 

1 See page 368. 


of which such a Report as this might be made a very great one ; 
how far and wide the mischievous consequences of it may Spread 
the wisest of you cant foresee, and by the late management show 

you want Tallents to Stop Wherefore it is all your Dutys to 

prevent it, and whatever has a tendency that way. It dos not 
appear what answer was returned to that Letter by anything 
in your Packett. This wee mention as to your Carriage towards 
the Moors. But with relation to our Selves wee say wee expect 
you to send us the best account you can on your Enquirys how 
that Diamond was come by, whether the buying it or the bringing 
of it to England has been to our prejudice and wherein and how 
much and any thing else you may think proper for our notice, 
that if wee should Suffer thereby wee may endeavour a Remedy. 
Enquire also who they were that first Sett on foot the discourse 
about it, and how it came to pass that when the Dyamond had 
been in England severall years before, the Natives, if that Letter 
was genuine, never mentioned anything about it till after the 
late President was come to England 1 /' 

When these orders reached India, Harrison had 
superseded Fraser. This seems to have been the 
last occasion on which the Governor was troubled 
with any attempt to dispute the ownership of his 
diamond. That the latter was already the talk of 
the town, and was somewhere on view in London on 
the Queen's birthday that year, appears from 'the 
following extract from a letter written on the I5th of 
December 1710, by Lady Wentworth to her son, Lord 
Raby, at Berlin : "My dearest and best of children, 
for all the great scarsity of mony, yett hear will be 
a gloryous show one the Queen's birthday, wonderful 
rich cloaths ar preparing for it : thear was one that 
see Mr Pit's great dyomont that I writ you word of, 
and they say its as big as a great egg ; I would have 
the sity of London bye it and mak a present of it to 
put in the Queen's Crown 2 ." 

In the meanwhile its owner had found himself in 
a somewhat similar position to that which his son 
Robert had occupied, when the late Whig Ministry 
had come into office. For the Whigs were now out, 

1 Hedges 3. 122. 2 The Wentworth Papers, 164. 



and all things had begun "to run counter to his 
opinion and party/' But he took his Parliamentary 
responsibilities in a very different spirit from that 
which his son had displayed. He was by no means 
the sort of man to content himself by remitting his 
attendances at the House of Commons, because of 
his disgust at the proceedings of his opponents. 
Passive resistance had no attractions for him at 
any stage of his career. Rightly or wrongly, he 
had a very strong belief that the State would be 
seriously endangered, if the High Church party were 
allowed to have a free hand in the conduct of the 
affairs of the nation. As we have seen he had been 
greatly shocked in Norway by a perusal of Sache- 
verelFs sermon, and by the reports which had reached 
him of the popular sympathy which it had evoked. 
"From what I can heare and inferr from it," he had 
written to his son, "our nation is ripe for confusion 
and destruction, which God prevent, and I hope noe 
child or relation of mine will have a finger in it." 
It is not likely that he was led to modify this opinion 
by the overwhelming defeat of the Whigs in the 
late general election, or by the proceedings of the 
Tory Ministry, which had now come into power. 
The bugbear, which he had ever before his eyes and 
with good reason was the triumph of the Jacobite 
cause and the restoration of the Stuart dynasty ; 
and month by month during the remainder of Queen 
Anne's reign he must have been confirmed in his 
fears that the leading men in the Ministry were 
working steadily and stealthily with this main end 
in view. It is easy to understand the constantly 
increasing indignation with which he regarded, in 
common with the great majority of his party, their 
manoeuvres to commit the country to a line of policj', 
the natural ending of which seemed to be to bring 
the Pretender to the throne bv the aid of the French 


King. Till recently, the pulpit had been for genera- 
tions to the great majority of the electors what the 
political press has now become. The clergy, Church- 
men and nonconformists alike, had enjoyed once at 
least in every week what was practically the monopoly 
of instructing the masses in politics. Most general 
elections, including the last, had turned on some 
supposed religious crisis. Of late years a rival to 
the pulpit had sprung into existence. Of the many 
changes that had taken place in England during his 
twelve years' absence, none was more startling or 
destined to produce more momentous consequences 
than the growing influence of the new journalism. 
It had suddenly become a potent factor in party 
politics and the formation of public opinion, and the 
present Ministry were determined to utilise it to the 
utmost. Having come into power by the aid of the 
pulpit on the cry that the Church was in danger, 
they went on to attain their real ends by the advocacy 
of the press, then almost in its infancy and at the 
mercy of every party which was for the time being in 
power. Defoe's Review, a twopenny weekly journal 
dealing not only with politics and news, but also with 
discussions on general matters, had been started in 
1704 and was still running. Its success had led to 
the publication of numerous other papers, of which 
the most important, so far as politics were concerned, 
was the Examiner, the contributors to which included 
St John, Atterbury, Prior, and other prominent 
Tory writers. Of less importance to politicians, 
though of infinitely greater interest to the lovers of 
literature, was Steele's Tatler, which had made its 
first appearance in April 1709, and which a few 
months after the Governor's return to London was 
superseded by the Spectator. The delightful contents 
of these two peerless periodicals, written by sound 
Whigs, must have been a source of considerable 



gratification to him. For it appears from his corre- 
spondence that he had greatly appreciated the oppor- 
tunity of reading in his exile at Fort St George some 
of the best works of the day sent out to his colleagues 
on the Council by their friends, and had bitterly 
resented the neglect of his son Robert to furnish him 
with a proper supply of similar literature. But 
whatever pleasure he may have derived from Steele's 
and Addison's essays, must have been greatly dis- 
counted by the startling articles which now began 
to appear in the Examiner ; and the substance of 
which was reproduced towards the end of the next 
year in Swift's celebrated pamphlet on The conduct 
of the Allies and of the Late Ministry, in Beginning 
and Carrying on the War. Swift had come from 
Ireland to London a month before Pitt's return, 
bitterly resenting the neglect of his former patrons 
the Whigs to reward him before they went out of 
office for the somewhat half-hearted services which 
he had from time to time rendered them. He had 
been received with open arms by Harley and had at 
once undertaken the management of the Examiner. 
From that time onward to the end of the Queen's 
reign, he was the literary champion of the Tories, 
constantly consulted by them, and admitted to their 
closest intimacy. " I stand," he writes in his Journal 
to Stella as early as the I4th of October 1710, "with 
the new people ten times better than ever I did with 
the old, and forty times more caressed." They 
might well caress him. Harley had himself told 
him that "their great difficulty lay in the want of 
some good pen to keep up the spirit raised in the 
people, to assert the principles, and justify the pro- 
ceedings of the new ministers 1 ." In plain words, the 
old Parliamentary hand fully realised that his party 
were in great difficulties, and that they stood in 

1 Swift's Memoirs relating to the change in the Queen's Ministry. 


urgent need of an exceptionally able advocate. The 
burning question of the hour was the war with 
France. This war had been begun with a light heart, 
with the object of curbing the vast power and ambi- 
tion of the French King, by a Coalition Ministry, the 
majority of whom were Tories. It had been successful 
beyond the wildest hopes of those who had taken it 
in hand. Thanks to the military genius of Marl- 
borough, who had never lost a battle or failed to take 
a town that he had sat down before, the French 
armies had been driven back into France ; and the 
enormous resources of the French King were rapidly 
approaching exhaustion. The Coalition Government 
who had begun it, had been superseded by a Whig 
Ministry, who had pursued the policy of their pre- 
decessors. Little more seemed required than that 
the Tories, now that they had come into office, should 
continue to prosecute the war with vigour, and carry 
it to a speedy and successful conclusion. Negotia- 
tions for a peace had been entered into by the late 
Whig Ministry at Gertruydenberg, and had been 
broken off in the preceding July. That peace must 
soon come seemed inevitable ; for the French King had 
already agreed to make many concessions and might 
reasonably be expected to make more, when the 
allied army had once entered France. But the Tory 
leaders had strong reasons of their own for not wishing 
to drive him to extremities. He was the only 
European potentate who at that time supported the 
claims of the Pretender ; and the Stuart cause would 
be practically a hopeless one if his aid were withdrawn 
as it well might be, if at this critical moment, now 
that the Tories most of whom were Jacobites were 
in power, no concessions were made to him in return 
for his past services. The Queen was in bad health, 
and might die at any moment. In the event of her 
death and the succession of the House of Hanover, 

xxvi] AGAIN AT HOME 447 

the Tories might be out of office for an indefinite 
period. As a matter of fact Harley was already 
intriguing through the medium of the Earl of Jersey 
and the Abbe Gaultier, for the restoration of the 
Stuarts and a settlement with the French King, whose 
emissary had been assured that the Queen "had a 
very tender feeling for the Pretender whom she looked 
upon as though he were her own child" ; that the 
recent changes in the Ministry had been made partly 
for the love of him ; that Harley, the Dukes of 
Shrewsbury and Buckingham were working for him 
only ; and that there would be no difficulty in 
bringing him to the throne after the Queen's death, 
if he would only renounce the Catholic religion 1 . 

It is possible that Swift, whatever his suspicions 
may have been, had not yet been let into the secret 
of these intrigues. All that it was necessary for 
Harley to let him know at this stage, was that the 
business which he had to undertake was to persuade 
the public that the war had been a miserable mistake 
from the beginning ; that whatever benefits the 
Allies had obtained from it, the English nation, which 
had been called upon to spend enormous sums upon 
it, had got nothing in return but empty military 
glory ; that it had been purposely prolonged by 
Marlborough and the moneyed classes for their own 
personal interests ; and that unless the Tories were 
heartily supported in bringing it to a speedy end in 
spite of the opposition of the Allies who were the 
only parties who had received any substantial advan- 
tages from it, the nation would inevitably be ruined. 
No man was better fitted for such a task than Swift, 
nor could any work have been more congenial to him. 
That he was thirsting for revenge upon Godolphin 
is clear from his Journal to Stella. On the gih of 
September he writes, "The Whigs were ravished to 

1 Stanhope 470. 


see me, and would lay hold on me as a twig, while 
they are drowning, and the great men making me 
their clumsy apologies etc. But my Lord Treasurer 
received me with a great deal of coldness, which has 

enraged me so that I am almost vowing revenge 

And I am come home rolling resentments in my 
mind and framing schemes of revenge, full of which 
(having written down some hints) I go to bed." On 
the ist of October again he writes, "I have almost 
finished my lampoon, and will print it for revenge 
on a certain great person/' On the I4th of October, 
"My lampoon is cried up to the skies. Did I not tell 
you of a great man, who received me very coldly ; that 
is he ; it was only a little revenge/' The lampoon 
in question was of course his verses on "Sid Hamet 
and his Rod/' Their success, great as it was, by no 
means satiated Swift's desire for revenge. He had 
still, as he had intimated in the last line of his lampoon, 
a further rod in pickle for his unfortunate victim, and 
it was not long before he applied it mercilessly. "If," 
he asks, "we began this war contrary to reason ; if, 
as the other party themselves upon all occasions 
acknowledge, the success we have had was more than 
we could reasonably expect ; if we have made weak 
and foolish bargains with our allies, suffered them 
tamely to break every article in those bargains to 
our disadvantage, and allowed them to treat us with 
insolence and contempt at the very instant when we 
were gaining towns, provinces and kingdoms for them 
at the price of our own ruin and without any prospect 
of interest to ourselves : if all this, I say, be our case, 
it is a very obvious question to ask, by what motives 
and by what management are we thus become the 
dupes and bubbles of Europe ? " And he answers 
the question thus, "When the Counsels of this war 
were debated in the late King's time, a certain great 
man" (Godolphin) "was then so averse from entering 



into it, that he rather chose to give up his employ- 
ment and tell the King he could serve him no longer. 
Upon that prince's death, although the grounds of 
our quarrel with France had received no manner of 
addition, yet this lord thought fit to alter his senti- 
ments, for the scene was quite changed : his lordship 
and the family" (Marlborough's) "with whom he 
was engaged with so complicated an alliance, were 
in the highest credit possible with the Queen. The 
treasurer's staff was ready for his lordship ; the duke 
was to command the army ; and the duchess by her 
employments and the favour she was possessed of, 
to be always nearest her majesty's person ; by which 
the whole power at home and abroad would be de- 
volved upon that family. This was a prospect so 
inviting, that to confess the truth, it could not easily 
be withstood by any who have so keen an appetite 
for wealth or power ....... So that whether this war 

was prudently begun or not, it is plain that the true 
spring and motive of it was the aggrandising of a 
particular family ; and in short a war of the general 
and the ministry, and not of the prince or people : 
since those very persons were against it when they 
knew the power and consequently the profit would 
be in other hands." These personal attacks on 
Godolphin and Marlborough were supplemented by 
an equally successful attempt to set class against 
class, the landed interest against the moneyed, and 
to point out the injury that would be done to 
both by the assistance that had been given to the 
Allies. "With those measures," Swift says, "fell in 
all that set of people, who are called the moneyed 
men : such as had raised vast sums by trading with 
stocks and funds, and lending upon great interest 
and premiums : whose perpetual harvest is war, and 
whose beneficial way of traffic must very much 
decline by a peace ....... We have conquered a noble 



territory for the States that will maintain sufficient 
troops to defend itself, and feed many hundred 
thousand inhabitants ; where all encouragement will 
be given to introduce and improve manufactures, 
which was the only advantage they wanted : and 
which added to their skill, industry and parsimony 
will enable them to undersell us in every market of 
the world." In the meanwhile what has the nation 
gained? "If the peace be made this winter/' he 
says, "we are then to consider what circumstances 
we shall be in towards paying a debt of about fifty 
millions, which is a fourth part of the purchase of 

the whole island if it were to be sold ? It will 

no doubt be a great comfort to our grandchildren, 
when they see a few rags hung up in Westminster 
Hall, which cost a hundred millions, whereof they 
are pa}dng the arrears, to boast as beggars do that 
their grandfathers were rich and great/' 

In estimating the unprecedented effect on the 
popular opinion of the day produced by inflammatory 
writing of this description, widely disseminated and 
discussed, accentuated and amplified for months 
with scurrilous libels and innuendoes against the late 
Ministry and Marlborough, who was charged with 
protracting the war for his own private purposes, 
we must bear in mind the extent to which Swift's 
opponents in the press were handicapped in replying 
to it. No reports of the discussions in Parliament 
were available to the public to enable them to know 
what was said on the other side ; and any writers 
for the opposition who dared to use equally free 
language subjected themselves to the risk of grievous 
personal pains and penalties. Queen Anne's reign 
has often been described as the Augustan age of 
English literature, amongst other reasons because 
of the rewards and recognition received by a few 
eminent writers from the Ministry of the day, notably 

xxvi] AGAIN AT HOME . 451 

by Addison and Steele when the Whigs were in power, 
and by Swift and Prior when the Tories came in! 
Lecky in his History of England in the Eighteenth 
Century has indeed gone so far as to maintain that 
the "generous and discriminating patronage of 
literature was the special glory of the Tory Ministry 
of Anne 1 ." But it would be a mistake to regard this 
patronage, for which none of the recipients in the long 
run had much reason to be thankful, as the outcome 
of a disinterested love of literature on the part of 
the Ministers for the time being in power. It was 
given in return for valuable political services rendered 
by the writers in the shape of libellous lampoons, 
partisan pamphlets, and steady polemical support 
in the party press. To the luckless pressmen and 
pamphleteers who dared to write for the opposition, 
the age was a veritable Reign of Terror. When 
Defoe in his Short Way with Dissenters excited the 
wrath of the High Churchmen by drawing a very 
clever caricature of the sentiments they were habit- 
ually expressing, so true to life that some of them 
thanked him warmly for it, before they discovered its 
irony, he had not only to stand in the pillory for his 
pains but was left to rot in Newgate until released by 
the intervention of Harley, to become a recruit on the 
secret service staff of his enemies, a ruined man, whom, 
to quote his own words, "gaol, pillories and such like 
had convinced that he wanted passive courage/' 
so much so that he "should never for the future 
think himself injured if he were called a coward 2 /' 
Similar punishment was now meted out with an 
unsparing hand by St John to the unfortunate writers 
who ventured to' reply to Swift. In October 1711 
he reports to the Queen 3 , "I have discovered the 
author of another scandalous libel, who will be in 
custody this afternoon. He will make the thirteenth 

1 Lecky i. 158. 2 Welbeck MSS. 4. 62. 3 Stanhope 495. 

29 2 


I have seized and the fifteenth I have found out/' 
Zealous as he was in the persecution of these poor 
scribes, he did not satisfy Swift, than whom no man 
was more sensitive to criticism, and who a year after- 
wards in his Journal to Stella writes, "Those devils 
of Grub Street rogues will not be quiet. They are 
always mauling lord treasurer, lord Bolingbroke 
and me. We have the dog under prosecution, but 
Bolingbroke is not active enough/' Finding that 
they could not be silenced in any other way, the Tory 
Government at last dealt them a deadly blow by the 
imposition of a prohibitory stamp duty. "Grub 
Street/' Swift writes gleefully to Stella on the igth 
of July 1712, "has but ten days to live, then an Act 
of Parliament takes place that ruins it by taxing 
every half sheet at a halfpenny/' Within the month 
he writes again, "Do you know that Grub Street is 
dead and gone last week ? The Observator is fallen ; 
the Medleys are jumbled with the Flying Post ; the 
Examiner is deadly sick ; the Spectator keeps up 
and doubles its price. I know not how long it will 
last." It lingered on with a reduced circulation to 
the 6th of December in that year. 

During the earlier part of the time when this 
unequal paper war was being waged in England, 
Marlborough was engaged upon his last campaign. 
Marshal Villars had constructed his famous line of 
defences, pronounced impregnable, which he himself 
had called " Marlborough's Ne Plus Ultra," and 
which are thought by some to have suggested to 
Wellington the lines of Torres Vedras. He held 
them with an army of 70,000 infantry and 20,000 
cavalry against Marlborough and his 75,000 men. 
But by a rapid march of 36 miles in sixteen hours 
over very difficult country, Marlborough turned 
them and took up a position in the enemy's rear. He 
then invested Bouchain, which capitulated on the 

xxvi] AGAIN AT HOME 453 

I2th of September, and going into winter quarters, 
prepared to carry into effect in the following spring 
his long cherished project of a march into the heart 
of France. Even Bolingbroke could not withhold 
his admiration. "My Lord Stair/' he wrote to him, 
"opened to us the general steps which your Grace 
intended to take, in order to pass the lines in one part 
or another. It was, however, hard to imagine and 
too much to hope, that a plan which consisted of so 
many parts, wherein so many different corps were to 
co-operate personally together, should entirely succeed 
and no one article fail of what your Grace had pro- 
jected. I most heartily congratulate your Grace 
on this great event of which I think no more needs 
be said, than that you have obtained, without losing 
a man, such an advantage as we should have been 
glad to have purchased with the loss of several 
thousand lives/' And he admitted this to others. 
" I look upon the progress/' he said, "which the Duke 
of Marlborough has lately made to be really honour- 
able to him, and mortifying to the enemy. The event 
cannot be ascribed to superior numbers, or to any 
accident ; it is owing to genius and conduct/' And 
yet before the year was out Marlborough had been 
deprived of all his employments. Even Swift, the 
greatest hater in that age of militarism, who had 

Ministry be sure of a peace ; 
shall wonder at this step, and do not approve of it at 
the best. The Queen and lord treasurer hate the 
Duke, and to that he owes his fall, more than to his 

other faults We have had constant success in 

arms while he commanded. Opinion is a mighty 
matter in war, and I doubt the French think it 
impossible to conquer an army that he leads ; and 

i Journal to Stella, i Jan. 1712. 


our soldiers think the same ; and how far this step 
may encourage the French to play tricks with us, no 
man knows. I do not love to see personal resent- 
ment mix with public affairs/' We are not left to 
conjecture the views of Governor Pitt on this lament- 
able catastrophe. His opinions of the Ministry, who 
were responsible for it, were expressed, as will be 
seen in no measured terms in one of the few speeches 
of his in the House of Commons of which any record 
has survived. 



IT was fortunate for Thomas Pitt that he had 
come back to England when he did, not merely 
because by doing so he had secured for himself a 
ready re-entry into the House of Commons, but also 
for personal and family reasons. Amongst other 
advantages, his return enabled him to relieve his 
son Robert and Sir Stephen Evans of the manage- 
ment of his monetary affairs. As has been seen, 
rumours and warnings of the financial instability of 
Evans had from time to time reached India ; and 
that they were not without foundation became very 
soon apparent by his bankruptcy, which involved 
many of those who had trusted him, including the 
merchant Stratford, Swift's old classmate, and the 
poet Prior in more or less serious losses 1 . The 
Governor might well have shared their fate, if he 
had been in India when the catastrophe occurred, 
for Robert would have been but a poor protector 
of his interests. With his usual carelessness he seems 
to have neglected to inform his father that Evans 
had declined to part with the great diamond without 
Robert's signature to a paper engaging to pay 5 per 
cent, of whatever the proceeds of its sale might 
eventually be; an engagement to which the Governor, 
as might have been expected, took strong exception 
some seven years afterwards, when Evans' assignees 

1 Journal to Stella, 12 and 13 Jan. and 6 March 1712. 


presented their demand for payment, and proceeded 
to enforce it by proceedings in Chancery 1 . 

His presence in England at this time was also 
very desirable in the interests of his daughters. 
Three years before, his friend Raworth had written 
to him", "You would do well to think of marrying 
your eldest daughter, for being fit for it, the sooner 
the better : and if you assign her fortune, something 
may be done and she well placed. I find that if 
daughters are not disposed of while their parents 
live, they are liable to many misfortunes afterwards. 
Men of estates are scarce, and women plenty, so that 
they do not easily go off, without a good deal of 
money, though they be never so virtuous and pretty 2 /' 
That Pitt himself was of the same way of thinking 
is clear from a letter he had written to Colonel 
Wyndham in January 1709, in which he says, "My 
daughters are my greatest concern, and heartily wish 
they were well disposed of, which I have left entirely 
to my Cozen George Pitt 3 /' His anxiety with respect 
to them was now soon removed. The first to marry 
was Lucy, the younger and apparently the more 
amiable of the two. Her husband General James 
Stanhope must have been a man after the Governor's 
own heart. He had greatly distinguished himself 
in the war in Spain, where he had been second in 
command under the Earl of Peterborough at the 
taking of Barcelona in 1705 ; and when Peterborough 
left Spain, had succeeded him. In 1710 he had 
won two brilliant victories at Almenara and Zaragoza. 
On the former of these occasions, in an encounter 
with the Spanish cavalry, he had slain their com- 
mander in single combat, an exploit commemorated 
by its being depicted upon the medal which, by the 
Queen's orders, was struck in honour of the day. 

1 Dropmore i. 63, 65. 2 Dropmore i. 28. 

3 Hedges 3. 114. 


The importance of the second victory had been 
cordially recognised by Marlborough, who had 
written to Godolphin, "Before this you have heard 
by Colonel Harrison the particulars of the battle 
in Spain, which is so deciding that it must have given 
us peace, had not the French been heartened by our 
divisions in England/' He and Peterborough were 
the most popular military heroes of their day in 
England. He had the additional advantage in the 
eyes of his father-in-law of being a sound Whig, and 
already so promising a politician that he and Walpole 
shared the leadership of the opposition in the House 
of Commons during the last years of Queen Anne's 
reign. He married Lucy Pitt in 1712, the year in 
which he came back from Spain ; and he and his 
wife seem to have been ever afterwards on the best 
of terms with the Governor. We shall probably not 
be far wrong in thinking that Lucy was her father's 
favourite child. She left behind her a character for 
gentleness, to which no other of his children could 
lay claim 1 . 

Her elder sister Essex married in 1714 Charles 
Cholmondeley of Vale Royal in Cheshire, grandfather 
of the first Lord Delamere. Judging from such of 
her letters as have survived, we may doubt whether 
in her case her father's injunction to her mother to 
give his daughters a " good education, and not to stick 
at any charge for it" was very effectually carried 
out : for her spelling and grammar are, if possible, 
worse than those of most ladies of that generation. 
In May 1711, while she was staying with her father 
in his house at Pall Mall, she writes to her sister-in- 
law, Mrs Robert Pitt 2 , "I writ this in bed, for I have 
such a pain in my head and coff that I cannot keep 
my head from the pellow. I believe I shall never 
be well again, for my coff grows worst and worst 

1 Rosebery 13, 14. 2 Dropmore i. 50. 


every day. I have had no coacth to go anywhere. 
Master Tommy" (Robert Pitt's eldest son) "is very 
well. I think the town agrees with him, for he have 
a fine coller and groose fat." Cholmondeley does not 
seem to have been the first man whose affections she 
had hoped to engage, for she writes from Blandford 
St Mary, in 1703, "We go to Mr Bartman semmer's 
very ofone and are very much in his favor. I was 
in hopes of gitting of him at one time, but the other 
day I was strock dead all at once for he told me he 
never desind to marry 1 /' 

The Governor seems to have taken kindly to 
Robert's wife. Her mother, Lady Grandison, writing 
to her in April 1711, says, "I am pleased to hear my 
dear daughter was so well received by Governor Pitt. 
It gives mee hopes I shall have the satisfaction to 
find you in his house, when wee meet. This I must 
imput to your good management, for I am senseble 
of the difficulty s you have to strugel with, while 
there are partys in your family, and I cannot but 
think it is a fault in your father to allow of it, as I 
shall tell him, you may assure yourself. The General " 
(Stewart) "is much pleased to know you are in the 
Governor's house 1 ." 

It may be doubted whether this good lady's inter- 
ference was calculated to promote her daughter's 
interests. Such family discord as still continued, 
when she proposed to intervene, was mainly confined 
to Robert and his sisters ; and if the Governor was 
to be drawn into taking Robert's side, now that his 
daughters were under his own roof and guardianship, 
he was far more likely to be induced to do so by the 
unaided attractions of his daughter-in-law and his 
affection for her children than by the dictation of 
Lady Grandison and her husband. It is clear from 
a letter of his written to Dolben some four years 

1 Dropmore i. 50. 



before this that he had resented General Stewart's 
officious intermeddling and advice to Robert in the 
matter of the great diamond. "With concern," he 
says in it, "I read what you wrote of the Lieut. 
General. My sone had noe Commission to impart 
my affairs to him, and for God sake prevent any 
misfortune that may attend me from anything that 
may befall Sr Ste : of which I gave you a hint in 

my last I am of your opinion of these two 

gentlemen's characters I wish it was bought 

for that small sum the Generall mentions and for 
that use 1 /' It would appear from this and other 
passages in his correspondence that he had little 
liking for the General or his wife ; and that he 
strongly suspected them of being the prompters of 
some of Robert's most foolish letters. For example, 
he writes on one occasion to his daughter-in-law, 
"I received yours of the I5th and severall others 
from you and your husband. The latter were so 
stuffed with complaints and directions to mee, that 
made mee very uneasye, and have taken a resolution 
to answer none of his letters. None of my children 
shall ever prescribe to me who I shall take into my 
house, or who I shall keep out, more especially him 
that has been the bane of my family, of which he has 
given me proofs not only whilst I was abroad, but 
since. Soe lett him rely on those that have hitherto 
steered his judgment, for I will have notheing more 
to doe with him 2 ." And again " I thank you for your 
congratulations of my daughter" (Mrs Cholmondeley 
who had just had a child) "being safe, and wish there 
was a better harmony in my family than at present, 
and so far as I can see, like to bee ; and that some 
of late had not given mee just cause to revive my 
resentments. I know not by whose advice you have 
acted, nor your husband, who never followed mine." 

1 Hedges 3. 130. 2 Dropmore i. 58, 59. 


The Governor's habitual plain language with 
regard to his eldest son throughout his correspon- 
dence has been cited by some as an indication of 
brutality. But it must be admitted that he had 
great provocation. Robert seems not only to have 
shown a perverse ingenuity in disregarding his father's 
directions and wishes, but to have been in very 
truth "the bane of the family/' perpetually at vari- 
ance either with his mother or his sisters or his 
brother, ever trying to poison his father's mind 
against them, and always piteously entreating for 
more money. A contemptibly poor creature, with 
few if any redeeming qualities, his self-satisfaction 
was unbounded. What Horace Walpole says of his 
eldest son and heir, Thomas Pitt, seems to have been 
equally applicable to him, "Never was ill nature so 
dull as his : never dullness so vain 1 ." There can be 
little doubt that his father on returning to England 
fulfilled the promise he had made before he left India, 
of placing him in easier circumstances. He certainly 
allowed him to live at Mawarden Court and at Bland- 
ford St Mary and to have the rents of the manor of 
Stratford. It would also appear from one of the 
letters of General Stewart that he had already settled 
some other property on him ; "a little" the General 
calls it : but whatever it was his father-in-law would 
be likely to regard it as too small 2 . Writing to Robert 
in December 1716, his father says, "With what you 
have wasted of my estate that I consigned to you, 
what settled, and what I permit you to possess" 
(the rents of Old Sarum) "what bestowed on your 
brothers and sisters amounts to upwards of 90,000 3 ." 
This in those days was a prodigious sum. And when 
this letter was written the great diamond, it must 
be borne in mind, was still on the Governor's hands 

1 Rosebery 18. 2 Dropmore i. 57. 

3 Dropmore i. 61. 


with little prospect of a purchaser. There is no 
trustworthy evidence that the Governor was a 
niggardly man at any stage of his career. That he 
was disposed to assist the poorer members of his 
family has already been shown. In the year after 
he returned from India, he restored the two churches 
at Blandford St Mary and Old Sarum. He built 
another church at Abbot's Ann in Hampshire, where 
he was lord of the manor 1 . The reports of his love 
of money seem mainly to be based on the irritation 
which he occasionally displays in his letters at the 
extravagance of his sons, and the attempts made as 
he thought to overreach him by comparative strangers. 
For example when he had a bill sent in to him for 
2549 f r tne expenses of Robert's election at Oak- 
hampton, which he had been led to expect would 
not exceed 500 ; and when he failed to receive 
satisfactory accounts from the stewards of some of 
his estates 2 . That he was fully justified in trying to 
curb the expenditure of his sons goes without saying ; 
and it would have been strange if the reputation 
of his wealth had not exposed him to imposition 
on the part of others. It seems to have been his 
habit to examine his bills before paying them, with 
the result that he sometimes came to the conclusion 
that he had been overcharged. On one occasion, 
writing to his son Robert who was staying at Bland- 
ford, he expresses his dissatisfaction with certain 
building accounts furnished by a Mr Jolly, and 
especially with one from a Mr Bascom. "That 3 ," 
he says, "was one of the fellows that said to William 
Hird, when hee found fault with him for not following 
his worke, hee answered : Dam it, the Governor had 
money enough ; and soe I believe Jolly thought too, 
by the unparallel'd expense hee has made. I am 

1 Hedges 3. 30, 155. 2 Dropmore i. 6769. 

3 Dropmore i. 51. 


resolved to peruse strictly Mr Jolly's accounts and 
have all the work measured and the charges investi- 
gated." The result does not appear to have been 
satisfactory ; for he wrote some months afterwards, 
"I earnestly desire you will settle my accounts with 
Mr Jolly, who, I believe, has not only wronged me, 
but suffered every one else to do the same. Pray 
be cautious with him." It would be absurd to infer 
from this and similar passages in his letters that he 
was unduly fond of money, or inclined to be unreason- 
ably suspicious of those with whom he had money 
dealings. We have seen that his suspicions of the 
solvency of Evans had been proved to be well founded. 
Like most men, who have had to work hard them- 
selves to make their own fortunes, he resented being 
cheated by those who served him badly. To those 
who served him well, he was more considerate. 
"For my particular affairs," he wrote to his friend 
Sir Edmund Harrison from India, "I employ the 
cursedest villain that ever was in the world, and see 
him cheat me before my face, but then he is a most 
dextrous indefatigable fellow in busyness, which makes 
me such amends that I can afford to bear with it 1 ." 
The house which he had taken in Pall Mall shortly 
after his return from Madras, seems to have been 
his town residence for the remainder of his life. It 
is stated in his will to have been a leasehold house. 
We may not unreasonably surmise that he took 
good care to make himself very comfortable in it, 
after the fashion of those days, that he kept an 
exceptionally good cellar, good servants, and a hand- 
some establishment ; and that he hospitably enter- 
tained there a large circle of his old friends, and the 
new ones whom he now met at Westminster and 
elsewhere. His life at this stage of his career must 
have been a striking contrast to that which he had 

1 Hedges 3. 103. 


led during his twelve years' exile at Fort St George 
To this house his two sons-in-law came wooing his 
daughters. From it he had no great distance to 
walk across the Park to his Parliamentary duties, 
returning home when they were over, often, it is 
to be feared, in anything but an amiable frame of 
mind, until the death of good Queen Anne. For 
bitter as the indignation of every member of his party 
deservedly was during those years, it may be doubted 
whether any of them entertained darker suspicions 
or more vehement hatred of their opponents than he 
did. Party passions have seldom run higher than 
they did then ; and his most deeply rooted prejudices 
were all on the side which was now in a hopeless 
minority in the House of Commons, though it had 
a small majority for a while in the House of Lords, 
until it was swamped in 1712 by the creation of a 
batch of twelve new peers, whom Wharton on one 
occasion asked whether they would vote singly or 
by their foreman. Whilst in India at a distance 
from the scene of action, he had very properly advised 
his son never to enter the House prepossessed. But 
it must have been on very rare occasions that he now 
found himself able to live up to this admirable counsel 
of perfection. For with his distrust of the Tories 
and their leaders no policy could have been more 
repugnant to him than that which they were now 
pursuing. In common with a large section of his 
fellow-countrymen, he seems to have taken much 
the same view of the war with Louis the Fourteenth 
that the majority of Englishmen did a century later 
of their war with Napoleon, regarding it as a just and 
necessary means of curbing the tyranny of an ambiti- 
ous French sovereign. " Tyrant " was the favourite 
term of reproach, which in both cases was applied 
in England to the French ruler. Commenting on the 
victory of Ramillies, the great numbers of French 


prisoners, colours and standards brought to England, 
and the rewards bestowed on the Duke of Marl- 
borough, Raworth his old friend had written to him 
in 1707, "Great is the man and great have been his 
actions but all these favours create enemies 1 /' But 
he adds, " If he reduce the grand tyrant, I shall regret 
nothing that is given to him." Apart, however, from 
the Governor's personal views on the expediency of 
the war, as a practical man and a patriot he must 
have realised that the removal of Marlborough from 
his command at a critical stage of the negotiations 
for peace, entered into by the Ministry in flagrant 
disregard of the interests of their Allies, and the ap- 
pointment as his successor of the Duke of Ormond, 
with peremptory restraining orders" to avoid engaging 
in any siege or hasarding any battle until he had 
further orders from the Queen/' were not only grossly 
unfair to our Allies, but absolutely fatal to any hope 
of the speedy conclusion of an honourable and satis- 
factory peace. Even if it be granted that all that 
had been written on behalf of the Tory Government 
of the day to inflame public opinion against those who 
were responsible for the continuation of the war was 
correct that the war had been a mistake from the 
first, that it had been originally entered upon for 
the personal interests of Godolphin and Marlborough, 
that England had as yet gained nothing by it but 
empty military glory, that her interests had been 
sacrificed to those of her Allies, and that the sooner 
it was brought to an end the better the only practical 
question at issue at this time was, how best to end it 
and obtain as favourable terms as possible from the 
French King. Obviously the worst possible way of 
doing this was that adopted by the Ministry, which 
was suddenly to check the further advances into 
France of an ever-victorious army, commanded by 

1 Dropmore i. 28. 


an ever- victorious General : to supersede that 
General ignominiously and to give his untried suc- 
cessor absolute orders to cease hostilities, without 
knowing on what terms the enemy were prepared 
to grant peace. By the French themselves the action 
taken by the Ministry was set down as a typical 
instance of the proverbial madness of Englishmen. 
As early as January 1711, de Torcy, the Secretary 
of State for Foreign Affairs of the King of France, 
on being informed in confidence of the desire of the 
English Ministry for peace, ' ' a thing/ ' he admits, ' ' most 
necessary" for his own fellow-countrymen, "but of 
which at that time they had not the smallest expecta- 
tion/' candidly admits in his Memoirs that "asking 
them whether they desired peace was like asking 
a sick man whether he wished to recover 1 /' At the 
end of that year, the position of France had become 
infinitely worse by the passage of the allied armies 
past the "Ne Plus Ultra" lines without the loss 
of a single man ; the military reputation of Marl- 
borough was at its zenith : never had the outlook 
for France seemed more hopeless. Well might the 
French King say when he heard of Marlborough's 
recall, "His dismissal will do all that we desire/' 
From that moment, as Swift had feared, the French 
began "to play tricks with us," demanding conditions 
which they had not previously dared to put forward, 
withdrawing offers which they had previously made 
and protracting the negotiations by one ingenious 
expedient and another, until they practically got 
unhoped-for concessions. Peace was not concluded 
at Utrecht until the end of March 1713, on terms which 
when they were made public were found to be on the 
whole no better, and in some respects worse than those 
which had been offered to the late Whig Ministry 
three years before at Gertruydenberg, and had been 

1 Stanhope 472. 
D. 30 


rejected as insufficient. Disappointing as they were, 
a day of thanksgiving was appointed, and both 
Houses of Parliament went in solemn procession to 
St Paul's to return thanks to God for them, repre- 
sented it need hardly be said almost exclusively by 
the Tory members. In another week (the i6th of 
July) Parliament was prorogued and a few days later 
dissolved. The general election that followed left 
the strength of the two parties very much the same 
as before. The country as a whole seems to have 
been glad that the twelve years' war was over at last, 
but to have felt some difficulty in determining which 
of the two Ministries deserved the greater blame, the 
Tories for failing to obtain better conditions from 
the French on the conclusion of their belated peace, 
or their predecessors for refusing the terms offered 
them three years before. One fact only was indisput- 
able, that the consequence of the prolongation of the 
war had been that the nation had been saddled with 
a vastly increased national debt to say nothing of 
the injury done to trade and the lamentable loss of 
life that it had entailed. 

At this general election Governor Pitt and his 
son Robert were both returned for Old Sarum. The 
new Parliament met on the i6th of February 1714 ; 
and the weary Parliamentary warfare of mutual 
recrimination was resumed. The Queen's speech, 
so far from being framed with the object of bringing 
the two parties . together, seems to have been studi- 
ously designed to exasperate the opposition. The 
great majority of the Whig members of the House 
of Commons during the last few months had been 
denouncing the peace to their constituents and 
representing the Hanoverian succession as endangered 
by the machinations of the Tory Ministry. For 
doing this, they were now held up to reprobation by 
Her Majesty. "It has pleased God," she informed 


them, "to bless my endeavours to obtain an honour- 
able and advantageous Peace for my own people, 
and for the greatest part of my allies. Nothing that 
I can do shall be wanting to render it universal, and 
I persuade myself that with your hearty Concurrence 
my interposition may at last prove effectual to 
complete the settlement of Europe. In the mean- 
while I congratulate with my own subjects that they 
are delivered from a consuming Land War and 
entered on a Peace, the good effects whereof nothing 

but intestine divisions can obstruct There are 

some who have arrived to that Height of Malice to 
insinuate that the Protestant succession in the House 
of Hanover is in danger under my Government. 
Those who go about thus to distract the minds of 
men with imaginary dangers can only mean to disturb 
the present tranquillity and to bring real Mishaps 
upon us. After all I have done to secure our Religion 
and your Liberties, and to transmit both safe to 
Posterity, I cannot mention these proceedings without 
some degree of Warmth, and I must hope that you 
will agree with me that attempts to weaken my 
authority or to render the Possession of the Crown 
uneasy to me can never be proper means to 
strengthen the Protestant succession/' These re- 
marks were accompanied with the practical sugges- 
tion that more rigorous measures might well be taken 
for the suppression of any unfortunate writers^ who 
might dare to support the Whig cause. " I wish/' the 
speech went on to say, "that effectual Care had been 
taken, as I have often desired, to suppress those 
seditious papers, by which designing Men have been 
able to sink Credit, and the innocent have suffered/' 
This suggestion was soon acted upon. Steele, 
who had been returned to the new Parliament as 
member for Stockbridge, had ventured with character- 
istic imprudence and ill luck to put his name to a 



political pamphlet called The Crisis, now remembered 
mainly by its having elicited Swift's famous rejoinder 
The Public Spirit of the Whigs. On the announce- 
ment but before the publication of Steele's work, 
Swift had warned his quondam friend of the probable 
consequences. " Believe me," he had written, "what 
thou'st undertaken, May bring in jeopardy thy bacon. 
For Madmen, children, wits and fools Should never 
meddle with edge tools/' Steele seems himself to 
have written comparatively little of the pamphlet, 
the greater part of which is said to have been com- 
piled by Mr William Moore of the Inner Temple, an 
adept in constitutional law. Steele however had 
.fathered it, and written its Preface and Dedication 
to the Clergy of the Church of England. He seems 
to have been scrupulously careful to avoid any cause 
for prosecution, having taken the precaution to 
submit it in proof to Addison, Hoadly, Lechmere 
and others, and to modify it in accordance with their 
suggestions. Swift himself in his reply to it tells us, 
"The entire piece consists of a title page, a dedication 
to the clergy, a preface, an extract from certain Acts 
of Parliament and about ten pages of dry reflections 
on the proceedings of the Queen and her servants, 
which his coadjutors the Earl of Nottingham, 
Mr Dunton and the Flying Post, had long ago set 
before us in a much clearer Hght." But such as it 
was, it had been widely puffed and circulated, and the 
Tory Ministry were determined to make an example 
of Steele, against whom they entertained a strong 
resentment as a staunch Whig and popular writer. 
Attention was therefore drawn early in the Session 
to the pamphlet in the House of Commons by Auditor 
Foley, who alleged that "it contained several para- 
graphs tending to sedition, highly reflecting upon 
Her Majesty, and arraigning her Administration and 
Government." Steele, appearing in his place in the 


House on the ijth of March, owned that he had 
written and published it. Being called upon for 
his defence, he took his place at the Bar of the House, 
supported on one side by Walpole and on the other 
by Stanhope, and defended himself in a speech of 
some three hours' duration, Addison being seated 
near him and prompting him from time to time. His 
accuser Foley made no reply to his arguments, but 
contented himself with moving that the paragraphs 
in question were "scandalous and seditious libels, 
containing many expressions highly reflecting upon 
Her Majesty, and upon the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy 
and Universities of this Kingdom, maliciously insinu- 
ating that the Protestant succession in the House of 
Hanover is in danger under Her Majesty's Adminis- 
tration and tending to alienate the Affections of Her 
Majesty's good subjects, and to create jealousies 
and Divisions among them." It would appear from 
the meagre reports that have come down to us of the 
debate which followed on this motion that Walpole 
and Lord Finch, son of the Earl of Nottingham, Swift's 
" Orator dismal of Nottinghamshire," indulged in far 
greater freedom of speech than Steele had dared to 
do either in his pamphlet or in his own defence of it. 
Walpole asked "why, if Steele was punishable under 
the law, he was not left to the law ? He had written 
nothing that could bear any criminal construction 
without the assistance of forced innuendoes, and was 
Parliament to assume the ungracious part of inferring 
guilt from mere arbitrary construction ? If they 
were to do so, what advantage to government or the 
community could be expected to result from such 
a measure ? Were doctrines refuted and truths 
suppressed by being censured or stigmatised ? Steele 
was only attacked because he was the advocate of 
the Protestant Succession. His punishment would 

1 Coxe's Life of Walpole, i. 78, 80. 


be a symptom that the succession was in danger and 
the ministry were now feeling the pulse of Parliament 
to see how far they might be able to proceed. General 
invectives in the pulpit against drinking, fornication, 
or any particular vice had never been esteemed 
a reflection on particular persons, unless those persons 
were guilty of the darling vice against which the 

E readier inveighed. It was therefore a fair inference 
om their irritability and resentment against its 
defender that the darling sin of the present adminis- 
tration was to obstruct the Protestant succession/' 
Finch was equally outspoken in defending that part 
of the pamphlet, which dealt with the Peace of 
Utrecht. "We may give it," he said, "all the fine 
epithets we please, but epithets do not change the 
nature of things. We may, if we please, call it here 
honourable ; but I am sure it is accounted Scandalous 
in Holland, Germany, Portugal and over all Europe 
except France and Spain. We may call it advan- 
tageous, but all the trading part of the nation find 
it otherwise, and if it be really advantageous, it 
must be so to the ministry that made it 1 ." 

.We may be sure that both of these speeches were 
warmly approved of by Governor Pitt, who was among 
the very respectable minority of 152, who voted 
against Steele's expulsion, as were also his second son 
Thomas and his cousin George Pitt of Strathfieldsay. 
Within a month after Steele's expulsion, the 
Ministry regardless of the proverb "qui s'excuse 
s' accuse," made a further attempt to clear themselves 
of the stigma that they were intriguing in the interests 
of the Pretender. They asked both Houses of Parlia- 
ment for a direct vote that the Protestant Succession 
was not in danger. The first debate on this question 
was in the House of Lords, where the vote was only 
carried by a majority of 76 to 64, that is to say, by 

1 Mahon i. 98. 


the decisive votes of the batch of twelve Torv peers 
created two years before. On the I5th of April 
it was passed in committee of the Commons bv a 
majority of 256 to 208, the Speaker and his friends 
voting in the minority. On the following day, it 
came up on report and passed without a division 
after a fierce debate, in which Walpole applauding 
the public spirit of the Speaker said that he despaired 
of seeing the truth prevail, since notwithstanding 
the weight of a person of such well-known integrity 
and eloquence, the majority had carried the vote 
against reason and argument.' Stanhope who followed 
him, enlarged on the consideration that it was the 
interest of the French King to bring the Pretender 
in, and that it was now more than ever in his power 
to do so. On the next day the Ministry made one 
more effort to rehabilitate themselves by moving 
the following address to the Queen from the House 
of Lords: "We Your Majesty's most dutiful and 
loyal subjects beg Leave to express the just Sense 
which we have of your Majesty's Goodness to your 
People, in delivering them by a safe, honourable and 
advantageous Peace with France and Spain from the 
heavy Burden of a consuming Land War, unequally 
carried on and become at last impracticable, and we 
do most earnestly intreat your Majesty, that you will 
be pleased notwithstanding the obstructions, which 
have been or may be thrown in your way, to pursue 
such Measures as you will judge necessary by com- 
pleting the Settlement of Europe on the Principles 
laid down by your Majesty in your Most Gracious 
Speech from the Throne." 

On this address a further angry debate ensued, 
which is thus reported by Lord Bathurst 1 : "The 
Duke of Argile spoke with a great deal of warmth, 
show'd what a Posture the Nation was in to have 

1 The Wentworth Papers 375. 


commanded any Peace, how weak the Enemy; he said 
he had since passt thro' their country, and itt was not 
to be expresst how miserable the People were, but by 
our cessation of Arms we had Scandalously deserted 
our Allies, and made a shamefull Peace and so ran 
down every article : I can't remember the exact 
words. There was a great deal said on both sides, 
but nothing cou'd be said new upon that subject 
which has been so sifted for two years past. The 
Bishop of London spoke ; but itt was only in answer 
to the Bishop of Sarum" (Burnet) "who endeavoured 
to perswade the Lords, for conscience sake not to 
approve the Peace, which he said was founded upon 
perfidy, in that we had broke our treaties with our 
Allies. Att last the Question was carried that the 
Peace was safe, honourable and advantagious, and to 
desire her Majesty to go on in such measures as would 
make the same compleat." The address was carried 
after a division by a majority of 19 only and was sent 
down at once to the Commons for their concurrence. 

Its reception there was anything but cordial. 
It reached them on a Saturday, and Peter Wentworth 
tells us "some Gentlemen said with a great deal of 
warmth that the House of Lords endeavoured 'to 
thrust them blindly into what methods they thought 
convenient, without allowing them time to deliberate, 
or giving them opportunity to peruse such Papers as 
it was absolutely necessary for them to peruse before 
they could rightly pass their Judgment on affairs, so 
that the matter was deferred till the next Thursday/' 

Wentworth was the brother of Lord Strafford, 
who had been the principal English plenipotentiary 
in the negotiations for the peace, and was now the 
Ambassador at the Hague. In the following year 
Strafford was impeached for his share in this business. 
It was of the utmost importance to him to have an 

1 The Wentworth Papers 371. 


authentic report of this debate ; and the letter of 
his brother, from which extracts are given below, was 
a confidential one, meant for his information only. 
For this reason notwithstanding its shortcomings, 
it is historically valuable, as being an unbiased 
record of the writer's impressions taken down the 
next day for the information of his brother the 
Ambassador. It would appear from it that the 
Ministry had circulated an official paper, referred 
to in the letter as the "narrative" setting out their 
case in support of the address 1 . 

" I was," Went worth writes, "in the house of commons yester- 
day to hear the Debate which was about concuring with the lords 
in their Address. Lord Downs first mov'd for't, and was seconded 
by Mr Gore, and thirded by Mr Medlicote. Then Mr Walpool 
made a very long and entertaining discourse against it, and 
had so many pretty turns that I am angry at my unhappy 
memory that cannot retain them : shou'd I attempt to repeat 
after him I shou'd spoil the jokes, but I may tell you in generall 
that he banter'd and scouted the Narrative which he held in 
his hand, wch he said he might be very free with, for it came 
to them signed by nobody and had the Stylle of some late 
Pamphleeteirs. ' Twas writ without any regard to order of time, 
so he hoped the house wou'd excuse him, if he hop'd and skipt 
about in following as wild and loose an account as t'was ; 'twas 
all the Ministry had to say for themselves for making so dis- 
honourable a Peace, and was what made him more averse than 
before to join with the Lords' address. He told them he did 
not know what use they intended to make of carrying such a vote, 
but he fear'd it would not be better then what they made of 
the votes of the last Parliament, upon wch my Lord Strafford 

was sent to frighten the Dutch into the Peace Mr Bromley 

answer'd him and defended the Narrative, but not so well as 
the other had rediculed it. Mr Stanhope spoke only to one 
point, as to the Duties we were to pay in Spain, wch he said 
by three Explanatory Articles were left at large, and instead 
of being at a certainty of ten p.c. it wou'd amount to 18 p.c., 
and he appealed to Mr Moor whether the Duties of the Alcavalos, 
Scientos and Mellones were not to be paid besides the duties 
of 10 p c. Mr Moor's answer left it upon the uncertainty that if 
they were paid in King C's time at what the duties were 15 p.c. at 

1 The Wentworth Papers 376. 


the lowest, it was to be understood to be now paid, wch Mr 
Stanhope afnrm'd would amount to a prohibition. Mr Hasilby" 
(Aislabie) "was very spart and witty. He play'd much upon 
the Asciento, but when he came to the affair of the Catalains he 
seem'd to be serious. A people that the Queen had said she 
thought herself obliged in honour and conscience to see they 
had their just rights and privilidges, scandalously abandon'd, 
but a Reverend Divine that was intimate with the Ministry 
had let them into the secreet, how it happen'd, for in his Spirit 
of the Whigs, he treats them as a Parcel of rebells, and as such 
not to be trusted with the Previledge of giving money, which 
was very apt to put Republican principles in them. If this 
Doctrin prevail'd, it might in time be apply'd to them of that 
house. He concluded, if the ministry could not sleep without 
such continual healing votes, to save the dignity of the house 
he wou'd come into giving them an act of endemnity but he 
dread a Ministry that was too proud to ask one." 

Cadogan answered Mr Bromley's vindication of the Cessation 
of Arms, that part where he asserted that when the Duke of 
M. was for fighting, a Deputy of the States pull'd out of his 
pocket an order from the States not to fight. Cadogan said 
that worthy member was misinformed. . .and now that he 
was up he wou'd declare his opinion of the barrier that 
was given to the Dutch might be taken from them by the 
French whenever they pleased, Lisle and Conde being theirs. 
He answered Mr Bromley likewise as to this peace being better 
than that of Ryswick : that was a conclusion of a ten years' 
unsuccessful war, this of ten years most successfull : 'twas 
attended with such success that it even went beyond their hopes 
or the enemies' fears. If they had been lett to have gone on 
they wou'd have been in the heart of France. After him Ross 

spoke He was so moderate in his speech that some that 

sat by me said that he smelt a rat, and might be well of all sides, 
if a change shou'd happen. 

Governor Pits declared himself against every part of the 
address, and for his part he felt that the French had left us in such 
a miserable condition that they ought to be thinking of another 
sort of an Address how to reduce the King of France in a condition, 
and to be the Arbitrator of Europe ; therefore he mov'd that 
an humble address be presented to her Majesty, that her present 
Ministry shou'd be sent to France to be his Ministry for three 
years. This was a jest they say of Harry Killigrew's in the 
time of King Charles the 2nd, when 'twas suspected that his 
Ministry was in the Interest of France. 

I don't endeavour to recollect what was said for us because 
you know more then was said. We did not trouble niether to say 


much, for we knew our numbers, and so did the Whigs, for after 
all their violent speechs, they did not devide upon the question : 

but 'twas carried nemine contradicente A moderate Whig 

told me 'twas never design'd to have a devition but only to show 
the Queen she was not well served, and as she had made the 
Peace, would do nothing to disturb her. 

After this sessions 'tis much talked of that there will be 
a change in the Ministry, but whether it be by an intire sett 
of Whigs or an intire sett of Tories, our Coffee Politians cannot 
say. Tis certain never Ministry has been so much abused in 
both houses and so little said in their defence, wch they say 

protends a change Some people think you are happy to 

be out of this hurley-burrly, and that you are not let into the 
secreets of the several partys ; others are of another opinion." 

It is clear from the foregoing account that the 
leading members of the opposition, most of whom 
attained high office in the next reign, spoke on this 
important occasion. The fact that Governor Pitt 
was selected to wind up the debate is an indication 
of the position which he had already attained amongst 
the most influential members of his party. His name 
also appears this session in the Journals oi the House 
as serving on the Committee of Privileges and Elec- 
tions, the most important Parliamentary Committee 
of the day, whose reports and proceedings take up 
so large a proportion of the very limited space devoted 
in the Journals to the proceedings of the House and 
some of whose most delicate duties have now been 
relegated to Judges of the High Court. His atten- 
dance on this Committee must have taken up a con- 
siderable part of his available leisure. But probably 
the' most important party work in which he was at 
this time engaged was assisting in the organisation 
of the precautionary measures which his son-in-law 
Stanhope was taking throughout the country, with 
the object of preventing the success of any attempts 
that might be made to place the Pretender on the 
throne, in the not improbable event of the sudden 
death of the Queen. 

1 House of Commons Journals, n. 475. 



GOVERNOR PITT'S speech in the Commons debate 
on the proposal to thank the Queen for her honourable 
peace of Utrecht was delivered on the 22nd of April 
1714. On the I4th of July the session came to an 
end ; and Queen Anne had time to consider whether 
after all it might not be well to recast her much abused 
Ministry, who had so little to say in their own defence, 
and whom the Governor had so bluntly recommended 
her to hand over to the King of France for the next 
few years. At a meeting of her Privy Council held 
at Kensington Palace on the 27th of July, she ex- 
plained to them in her own simple language the 
reasons which had led her to decide to remove from 
office Mrs Masham's wearisome old cousin Harley, 
whom she had made by this time Earl of Oxford. 
These, as his own secretary Erasmus Lewis confiden- 
tially informed Swift at the time were "that the Lord 
Treasurer neglected all business ; that he was very 
seldom to be understood ; that when he did explain 
himself, she could not depend upon the truth of what 
he said ; that he never came to her at the time she 
appointed ; that he often came drunk ; lastly to 
crown all, that he behaved himself towards her with 
bad manners, indecency and disrespect/' It is easy 
to understand that the poor man was somewhat taken 
aback at this uncomplimentary enumeration of his 
shortcomings by the Royal Lady, whom he had 


served for the last four years so completely to his 
own satisfaction ; but he must, one would think, 
have often afterwards regretted that he did not at 
once give up the White Staff, without entering into 
a painful personal altercation with her, protracted 
till two o'clock in the following morning. For the 
excitement and exhaustion, which it entailed, were 
too much for the Queen's enfeebled constitution ; 
and within the next twenty-four hours she was seized 
with an apoplectic fit. In the meanwhile Boling- 
broke, confidently assuming that he would be invited 
to take his late chiefs place, was entertaining at 
dinner in his house in Golden Square some of the 
most eminent members of the opposition, and trying 
in vain to bring them to terms with the Tories. The 
next morning on hearing of the Queen's seizure, he 
called a special meeting of the Privy Council, sending 
out the summonses only to Tory members. It was 
held at Kensington and was attended not only by the 
invited members of the Council, but also by the Whig 
Dukes of Argyle and Somerset, who claimed the right 
to take part in it. As the result of their deliberations 
it was resolved to recommend the Queen to fill up 
the post of Lord Treasurer without delay and to 
appoint pro hdc vice the Duke of Shrewsbury, who 
was at that time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and a 
member of the Tory Ministry. A Deputation from 
the Council headed by Shrewsbury then proceeded 
to invade the Queen's bed-chamber, rouse her from 
her lethargy and apprise her of the recommendations 
of her Council. She recovered sufficiently to enable 
her to hand the Staff to Shrewsbury, " bidding him," 
the deputation reported, ''use it for the good of her 
people." She then sank again into unconsciousness, 
from which she never rallied, dying on the Sunday 
morning, without having been able to receive the 
Sacrament or to sign her will. 


On the return of Shrewsbury and his deputation 
from her bedside to the Council Chamber, a special 
summons was sent out to all the Privy Councillors 
in or near London, Whigs and Tories alike, to attend 
another meeting in the afternoon. At this meeting 
resolutions were passed to order four regiments up 
to London at once ; to recall seven battalions from 
Ostend ; to lay an embargo on all the ports ; and to 
send an express to Hanover, earnestly requesting 
the Elector to hasten to Holland where a British 
squadron would be ready in attendance to bring him 
over in the event of the Queen's demise. At the 
same time a reminder was sent to the States of 
Holland of their guarantee to secure the Protestant 

The Queen died between seven and eight o'clock 
on the morning of Sunday, the ist of August. The 
Privy Council met at once at St James's Palace, where 
the Hanoverian resident, who attended, produced 
a document in the Elector's own hand-writing, 
nominating eighteen of the principal peers, nearly 
all of them Whigs, to act as Lords Justices pending 
his arrival. By the directions of the Council King 
George was proclaimed in London and Westminster 
between 2 and 4 o'clock. On the same afternoon 
Parliament met in accordance with the provisions 
of the Regency Act, and the oaths were administered 
to such members as made their appearance. It was 
then adjourned de die in diem till the 5th of August 
to give time for the remainder to take their oaths. 
On the 5th a Committee of the House of Commons 
was nominated to prepare an address to the King, 
and the Committee of Privileges and Elections was 
also appointed. It is interesting to note that Gover- 
nor Pitt's name appears on both Committees. In 
the meanwhile the Lords Justices, who had appointed 
Addison as their Clerk, and ordered all despatches 


the Secretary of State to be delivered to him 
mdertook the whole administration of the affairs of 
\e kingdom. 

By these prompt and effective measures the 
:ecutive Government of the State passed suddenly, 
>ut peaceably, without any opposition, out of the 
lands of the Tories into those of the Whigs, although 
the latter were still in a hopeless minority in the 
Commons, and barely held their own in the House 
of Lords. On the 6th of August, the address to the 
King from both Houses was considered and passed, 
condoling with him on the death of the Queen, con- 
gratulating him on his accession, assuring him that 
both Houses would do their utmost to support his 
undoubted right to the throne against the Pretender 
and all other persons whatsoever, and expressing 
their impatient desire for his safe appearance and 
presence in Great Britain. The revenues granted 
to the late Queen were voted to him with the excep- 
tion of those of the Duchy of Cornwall, which by law 
had devolved on his son, the Prince of Wales. 

The success with which this sudden transfer of 
power from one party in the State to the other was 
carried out, without a single hitch, without the 
slightest popular disturbance in London, or one 
dissentient voice in Parliament, is a striking testimony 
to the efficiency of the party organisation of the 
Whigs, who seem to have foreseen and provided 
against every difficulty that might arise in the event 
of the Queen's death ; to have well considered every 
detail, and acted boldly and promptly at the critical 
moment when the time for action had arrived. Their 
opponents appear to have been paralysed. Atter- 
bury indeed is said to have proposed to Bolingbroke 
to proclaim the Pretender at Charing Cross, and to 
have offered himself to head the procession in his 
lawn sleeves ; and on Bolingbroke's refusal to join 


him, to have exclaimed with an oath, "There is the 
best cause in Europe lost for want of a little spirit/' 
But whatever may be the foundation for this story, 
it is unlikely that the Pretender's cause would have 
gained much, if Atterbury's suggestion had been 
adopted. In London and the principal provincial 
towns the majority of the population was undoubtedly 
in favour of the Protestant succession. And the Whigs 
were fully prepared if necessary to meet violence 
with violence. Under the guidance of Stanhope, the 
Governor's son-in-law, who was acting as the military 
adviser of the Whigs, they had, as we learn from his 
descendant the historian, "entered amongst them- 
selves into an organised association, collected arms 
and ammunition and nominated officers. They had 
in readiness several thousand figures of a small fusee 
in brass, and some few in gold and silver, to be 
distributed amongst the most zealous followers and 
the most active chiefs, as signals on the expected 
day of trial 1 ." Stanhope had also taken "every 
measure for acting with vigour, if necessary, on the 
demise of the Queen to seize the Tower, to secure 
in it the persons of the leading Jacobites, to obtain 
possession of the outposts and to proclaim the new 
King/' We may not unreasonably surmise that 
Governor Pitt was aware of and approved these 
proceedings, and that he had contributed to the 
necessary expenses which they must have involved. 
There could be no object on which he would be more 
willing to spend his money ; and as a matter of fact 
we know that in the following year he paid for the 
arms and accoutrements of a local levy of Dorset 
men to fight for the King against the Pretender. 

It must also be remembered that a considerable 
section of the Tories were not Jacobites, and that 
they still had hopes that the new King might form 

1 Mahon i. 132. 


a Coalition Ministry. He had not yet announced 
the names of his new Ministers or definitely ranged 
himself on the side of the Whigs. In the meanwhile 
there were many Tories who hoped to obtain his 
favours. Whilst his intentions were still undisclosed, 
the following three letters sent out to Strafford at 
the Hague, where the King was still staying, indicate 
the general disposition on the part of the Tories to 
give him a fair trial 1 . The first is from Stafford's 
brother Peter Wentworth who says, "At present 
the striff is who shall show themselves the most 
Zealous for the Present King George, wch is some 
disappointment to the leading Whigs, for they did 
expect some opposition in the manner of granting 
the Civil List, wch the less experienced Tories were 
ready to give, but they were better advised by the 
wiser, who are for proposing everything that's for 
the honour and dignity of the Crown, so much that 
some people out of doors of both Partys begin to fear 
that we shall have the rights and Libertys of English- 
men complymented away." The second letter is 
from Lord Berkeley, who writes, "I am glad to see 
your Lordship hath receiv'd such gracious letters 
from our King. Some that are none your friends 
are nettled at the favours you mention. The world 
continues very quiet here, and it is wonderfull that 
there hath not been soe much as an indiscretion. 
The Whigs are really peevish to have the lye soe 
handsomely given them." The third is from Straf- 
ford's mother. "Al hear," she says, "are in great 
rapturs of the King, and say he is the Wysist and 
Richis Prince in Yoarup : I hope he will prove soe." 
If Bolingbroke himself entertained any hopes of 
becoming a member of the new Ministry, he was very 
soon disillusioned. On the 3ist of August, whilst 
the King was still at the Hague, three of the Lords 

1 The Wentworth Papers 415, 417. 



Justices, Shrewsbury, Somerset and Cowper came 
over to the Cockpit ; informed him that Lord Town- 
shend had been appointed as his successor ; took from 
him his seals ; sealed up his papers, and locked the 
doors of his late office against him. " To be removed/' 
he wrote to Atterbury, "was neither matter of surprise 
nor of concern to me. But the manner of my removal 

shocked me for at least two minutes The grief 

of my soul is this : that the Tory party is gone/' 

The King and the Prince of Wales displayed no 
indecent haste to enter into their inheritance. It 
was not until the i8th of September that they landed 
at Greenwich, where a vast concourse of the principal 
nobility and gentry were assembled to welcome them, 
and to accompany them on the following day in 
coaches to St James's Palace. We may not unreason- 
ably conjecture that Governor Pitt's house in Pall 
Mall was grandly illuminated on this occasion ; and 
that he gave a sumptuous entertainment that evening 
to his numerous friends. 

A few days later the ministerial appointments 
were announced. His son-in-law Stanhope was made 
Second Secretary of State, and his colleague Walpole 
Paymaster of the Forces. Stanhope was the only 
member of the new Cabinet who had a seat in the 
House of Commons. It was a grand time for the 
Governor. On the Sunday before the Queen's death 
his daughter Essex had been married at St James's 
Church in great pomp to Cholmondeley 1 . The hated 
Tories were out ; their two leaders disgraced ; the 
Hanoverian succession safe ; and his son-in-law in 
high favour with the new King, who graciously 
deigned to receive the Governor himself, and to 
admire his great diamond. "I was this day/' he 
writes to Robert on the 2nd of October 2 , "above an 
hour with the King and Prince ; certainly their 

1 Hedges 3. 159. 2 Dropmore i. 50. 


aspects promises prosperity to the country. I showed 
them the great diamond, which they admired and 
seemed desireous of it, but, I believe, hope the nation 
will give it." 

The day after the Coronation Stanhope left 
England on a secret mission to the Hague and Vienna, 
with the object of removing the friction that had 
arisen between Holland and Austria in the matter 
of the Barrier Treaty. He returned to London early 
in January, before the issue of the two Royal Pro- 
clamations dissolving the present Parliament and 
summoning a new one. In the latter the King 
advised the electors in the choice of their representa- 
tives to "have a particular regard to such as showed 
a firmness to the Protestant succession when it was 
in danger." The electors displayed their loyalty 
by following the unconstitutional advice thus given 
to them, and the Whigs were returned with a large 
majority. One of the results of the election was that 
Governor Pitt and his three sons obtained seats in 
the House of Commons, the Governor for Thirsk ; 
Robert Pitt for Old Sarum ; Thomas Pitt, now a 
Colonel of Dragoons, for Wilton ; and John Pitt for 
Hindon 1 . The Houses met on the I7th of March ; 
and it at once became apparent that the Whigs were 
by no means minded to let bygones be bygones. 
The King's speech from the throne contained the 
following paragraphs : 

" It were to be wished that the unparalleled successes of a War, 
which was so wisely and chearfully supported by this Nation, 
in order to procure a favourable Peace, had been attended with 
a suitable Conclusion. But it is with Concern I must tell you, 
that some Conditions even of this Peace essential to the security 
and Trade of Great Britain are not yet duly executed, and the 
Performance of the whole may be looked upon as precarious, 
until we shall have found defensive Alliances to guaranty the 
present treaties. 

1 Parliamentary History, vn. 36, 37- 



The Pretender, who still resides in Lorrain threatens to 
disturb us ; and boasts of the Assistance which he still expects 
here to repair his former Disappointments." 

These paragraphs elicited the following reply in 
the address from the Commons, drawn up by a Com- 
mittee, of which Governor Pitt was again a member. 

"We are sensible of your Majesty's Goodness expressed to 
those who have distinguished themselves by their zeal and Firmness 
for the Protestant succession. And as we doubt not but the 
Wisdom and Steadiness of your Government will unite the hearts 
of all your faithful subjects in duty and affection to your Sacred 
Person, so we most humbly beg leave to assure Your Majesty, 
that we not only highly resent the wicked Insinuations used to 
disquiet the Minds of your subj ects ; but are resolved to the utmost 
of our Power to suppress and extinguish that evil disposition that 
is at work to deprive your Majesty of the Affection of your 

It is with just resentment we observe that the Pretender 
still resides in Lorrain, and that he has the Presumption by 
declarations from thence to stir up Your Majesty's subjects to 
Rebellion. But that which raises the utmost indignation of 
your Commons is that it appears therein that his hopes were 
built upon the Measures that had been taken for some time 
past in Great Britain. It shall be our business to trace out those 
measures, whereon he based his Hopes, and to bring the authors of 
them to Condign Punishment." 

This address was not allowed to pass without 
a division. But it was carried by a majority of 244 
to 138. The threat in the last of the above para- 
graphs was occasioned by the ill-advised wording of 
the Pretender's manifesto, in which, regardless of the 
consequences to his supporters in the late Ministry, 
he had alleged as an excuse for his non-appearance 
in England during the late Queen's lifetime the fact 
that "he could not doubt for some time past her good 
intentions towards him." 

The address left the House of Commons on the 
24th of March. Two days afterwards Bolingbroke 
fled from London disguised as a servant of a messenger 
in the French Embassy, and got safely out of the 


>untry, leaving his late colleagues to bear the brunt 
of the coming impeachments. On arriving at Paris 
he went to the English Ambassador, to protest that 
he would enter into no disloyal engagements, and 
wrote with similar assurances to Stanhope. But in 
the following July he joined the Pretender in Lor- 
raine, and accepted from him the seals of Secretary 
of State. 

Meanwhile such official papers, relating to the 
negotiations for the late peace and the cessation of 
hostilities, as had not been destroyed or taken away 
by Bolingbroke, had been very laboriously collected 
for the Government ; and were presented to the 
House of Commons by Stanhope on the gth of April. 
They were very voluminous and were bound up in 
twelve large volumes and three small books. The 
House resolved that they should be carefully scruti- 
nised by a Committee of Secrecy, who should report 
what they found in them, sitting from day to day 
without intermission until their task was completed, 
with power to call for persons, papers and records. 
This Committee was to consist of twenty-one members 
chosen by ballot. On the nth of April the members 
of the House deposited their selected lists of names 
in the glasses provided for the purpose : and when 
the result was made known, it was found, as was 
expected, that the Committee was almost exclusively 
composed of the new Ministry and their principal 
supporters. Governor Pitt was no doubt gratified 
at obtaining no less than 246 votes in this ballot, 
which gave him the honour of serving on the Com- 
mittee. Heavy as the work might be, it must have 
been a labour of love in which he was proud to take 
part to investigate at first hand all the evidence 
available of the machinations of the Jacobites in the 
late Ministry ; to cross-examine the witnesses ; to 
confirm the suspicions he had so long entertained ; 


and to assist in preparing the scandalous revelations 
which he must have hoped were soon to be made 
for the enlightenment of the British public. 

It took the Committee nearly two months to get 
to the bottom of this business. On the gth of June 
Walpole presented their report to the House. It 
was a very lengthy one and took him five hours to 
read aloud. On the following day, Sir Thomas 
Hanmer, the late Speaker, moved that its considera- 
tion should be deferred until the 2ist. This proposal 
was strongly opposed by Walpole and Stanhope and 
negatived by the House. Walpole then moved two 
resolutions, one for the impeachment of Bolingbroke 
and the other for the impeachment of Oxford. Both 
were carried without a division ; and it was referred 
to the Committee of Secrecy to prepare the articles 
of impeachment. The report was then ordered to be 
printed and its further consideration was adjourned 
until the 2ist. 

In the interval the Government had time to 
consider who else should be impeached. The main 
question which they had to decide was how to deal 
with the Duke of Ormond, who after the flight of 
Bolingbroke, was the most prominent Jacobite left 
in the country. Ormond was now living in ostenta- 
tious magnificence at Richmond, holding public 
levees attended by the principal members of the 
opposition and many well-known Jacobites. Boling- 
broke and Oxford were both to be impeached for 
high treason ; but it would have been very difficult 
to substantiate any similar charge against Ormond 
on the evidence collected by the Committee of Secrecy ; 
for as a military commander he had had no option but 
to obey the orders transmitted to him by the late 
Ministry and Queen for the cessation of hostilities 
with the French forces. At the same time to have 
allowed him to continue at large at the present crisis, 


would have been a course fraught with considerable 
danger to the Whigs, as it would have been an en- 
couragement to other prominent Jacobites to follow 
his example. He was strongly suspected of being 
at the bottom of the riots which were now spasmodi- 
cally breaking out in various parts of the country, 
and of being engaged in treasonable correspondence 
with the Pretender. As a matter of fact he was 
actually making arrangements for a wide-spread 
insurrection in the west of England, and plotting 
for an invasion of the south coast with armed forces 
from France. But though the Ministry had strong 
suspicions that this was the case, they had at present 
no sufficient proofs to justify their arresting him, 
and he had very powerful friends in both Houses. 
Overtures were therefore made to him on the King's 
behalf, in which he was given to understand that if 
he would privately assure the King of his loyalty, 
and undertake not to espouse the cause of the Pre- 
tender, no proceedings would be taken against him. 
These overtures having failed, it was decided to 
impeach him of high treason, along with Bolingbroke 
and Oxford, on the evidence, weak as it was against 
him, contained in the report of the Committee of 
Secrecy. Accordingly on the further consideration 
of that report on the 2ist of June, Stanhope moved 
his impeachment, and carried it on a division, but 
only by the narrow majority of 47, after a protracted 
debate, in which several members who were undoubted 
supporters of the Protestant succession spoke strongly 
against the injustice of this method of procedure. The 
only justification that can be offered for thus arraigning 
the Duke for alleged treasonable offences of which the 
government had no evidence that he was guilty, is 
that its result was to prevent him from committing 
other treasonable offences which he undoubtedly had 
in contemplation ; and to upset the arrangement he 


had agreed with the Pretender to carry out, which 
was to remain at his post in England encouraging 
the Jacobites, until their plans were matured and the 
preparations for the rebellion were completed. This 
he did not venture to do ; but following Bolingbroke's 
example escaped in secrecy to France, where his 
arrival created great consternation amongst the Pre- 
tender's friends, who were relying on his undertaking 
to continue in England to lull the suspicions of the 
Ministry, and arrange for a general rising of the 
Jacobites in the western counties. His flight following 
so closely on that of Bolingbroke was construed as an 
admission of his guilt ; and made it easy for the Whigs 
not only to pass bills of attainder against both almost 
without opposition, but also to take extraordinary 
measures, which Parliament might otherwise have 
hesitated to sanction, for the protection of the throne 
and the summary arrest of all persons suspected by 
the executive of plotting against the King. 

On the 2ist of July in a speech from the throne 
the King made a special appeal to the Commons for 
assistance. Referring to the recent Jacobite riots, 
which had broken out in several parts of the country, 
he said, "I am sorry to find that such a spirit of 
rebellion has discovered itself, as leaves no room to 
doubt that these disorders are set on foot and en- 
couraged by Persons disaffected to my Government 
in expectation of being supported from abroad. 
The Preservation of our excellent Constitution, and 
the Security of our Holy Religion has been and 
always shall be my chief care, and I cannot question 
but your concern for these invaluable blessings is so 
great, as not to let them be exposed to such attempts 
as I have certain advices are preparing by the Pre- 
tender from abroad and carrying on at home by a 
restless party in his favour/' In their address in 
reply to this speech the Commons informed him "That 


this House will with their lives and fortunes stand 
by and support His Majesty against all his open and 
secret enemies/' and desired him "That he would 
immediately give directions for fitting out such a 
number of ships as might effectually guard the Coast, 
and to issue Commissions for augmenting his forces 
by land/' assuring him that " this House will without 
loss of time effectually enable him to raise and main- 
tain such a number of forces by sea and land as shall 
be necessary for the defence of His Sacred Person 
and for the security of his Kindgom." On the same 
day a Bill was brought in empowering the King to 
secure and detain such persons as he might suspect 
were conspiring against his person and government. 
This Bill was passed on the 23rd of July and sent up to 
the Lords, who the same day informed the Commons 
that they had agreed to it, and passed it without any 
amendment. It was not long before the Government 
found it necessary to avail themselves of the extra- 
ordinary powers thus conferred upon them. 

Few ministers can have had a more trying session 
than Stanhope had that year ; but in the midst of 
his anxieties he had done his best to help his brother- 
in-law Robert Pitt to a sinecure. Twelve years had 
now passed since Robert, when announcing his 
marriage to his father, had expressed a hope that he 
might be able to obtain some "genteel employment 
by the intercession" of his wife's family. This hope 
had not been realised. But now Stanhope had gone 
out of his way to obtain a "genteel employment 1 
for him in the household of the Prince of Wales. The 
following courteous and conciliatory letter from 
Stanhope seems to have been written in reply to 
Robert's enquiries as to its nature 1 . 

"1715 Sep 16. London. I assure you that, when in 
discourse with your father, the office of Clark of the Green Cloath 
1 Dropmore i. 51. 


to the Prince was mentioned, it was onely looked upon, as you 
truly guess it, as an introduction to such future advancement, 
as, I am confident, you will very justly be thought to deserve 
wljen you shall be better known to the King and Prince, I cannot 
precisely answer what you desire to be informed of, no establish- 
ment being yett made : but what I have heard is, that the 
salairy will be 500, the attendance little or none, at least so 
long as the two families live under one roof. There can certainly 
be no reason for a new election for the reason you mention. 
I believe the establishment will be fixed in about a fortnight ; 
and it will be a very great satisfaction to me if any endeavours 
of mine for your service are acceptable to you." 

Owing to the great pressure of urgent business, 
Parliament was not prorogued that year till the 
2 ist of September. Before the Houses had risen, 
Governor Pitt, who had been heavily worked on the 
numerous Parliamentary Committees on which he 
was member that year, had paid a short visit to his 
daughter Essex at her new home in Cheshire. During 
his absence from town the rebellion had broken out 
in Scotland, where the Pretender's standard had 
been raised by the Earl of Mar. The rising of the 
Jacobites in the west of England, which was to have 
taken place simultaneously, was only frustrated by 
the prompt exercise by Stanhope of the extraordinary 
powers of arrest conferred by the recent Act. Three 
suspected noblemen had been committed to the 
Tower ; and on the last day of the session a message 
from the King was brought down to the Commons, 
desiring their consent to the apprehension of six 
members of the House. On getting back to town, 
the Governor wrote to Robert 1 : 

"1715. September 27. Pall Mall. I reached home last night 
after a pleasant journey from Vale Royal. On my way at 
Coventry, news met me of the arrest of three peers and six 
members of the House of Commons : among the latter being 
your bosom friend the Esquire of Combe" (Mr Harvey 2 ) "who 

1 Dropmore i. 52. 

2 Who had formerly sat as member for Old Sarum with the 


yesterday stabbed himself in three places in the Messenger's 
house. It is said to-day that he will recover. I hear that 
letters from his friends have been found among his papers, and 
hope there are none that can compromise you. I have heard 
since I came to towne that you are strooke in with your old 
hellish acquaintance, and in all your discourses, are speaking 
in favour of that villainous traytor Ormond. The design of 
these packs of villains that are now taken up was noe less than 
to cut off the whole Royal family, and sett the cursed Pretender 
on the throne, in which miserable tragedy I should have had 
my share. God still avert it ! Greater discoverys are expected 
will be made every day ; let whoso will be concerned, I wish they 
may have their demerits." 

Two days later he writes again : 

1715. September 29. Pall Mall. I received yours of yesterday, 
when dining at Sir Richard Onslow's with Mr Stanhope. We 
gave him your letters to read. He said that a letter from you, 
of no importance, had been found among Mr Harvey's papers. 
He was going to a Cabinet, but we shall send an answer from 
him by next post. 

You may remember that hee" (Mr Harvey) "and I signed 
bonds, which was the I3th of July last, that the survivor of us 
two should receive from the heirs of the deceased 1000 guineas, 
when in his letters of January before hee was engaged in the 
hellish design of cutting off the Royall family, and for some time 
before it appeares under his own hand, that hee had corresponded 
with the Pretender ; and is said has like to recover of his wounds ; 
but sure hee can ne\er save his life but by an ample confession ; 
and it is said there are 160 or more men of estates that have 
signed an association, and have obliged 'emselves or paid 2000 
each towards the charge of rayseing forces to bring in the Pretender. 
Since last post, I have had it reiterated to mee that in all company 
you are vindicating Ormond, and Bull(ingbroke), the two vilest 
rebells that ever were in any nation, and that you still adhere 
to your cursed Tory principles, and keep those wretches company 
who hoped by this time to have murthered the whole Royall 
family; in which catastrophe your father was sure to fall, as was 
certainly designed by the signing of those bonds, and to have 
taken possession of my house and all that could be found therein ; 
never a viler man in the world and the same stamp all your 
acquaintance. I think of being at Stratford on Sunday or 
Monday. You may remember the advice I gave you from the 
time of my arrival ; but others, who you will be bound for ever 
to curse, prevayled." 


On the ist of October he writes again from Pall 

"I dined too day at Mr Stanhope's, when he delivered mee 
the inclosed. The game is still carrying on, and it is said that 
the D(uke) of O(rmond) and Sir William W(yndham) are to 
appear in the West Suddenly, for it is wrott from France the 
Duke is come thence. A ship came into the Downs on Thursday 
from Fort St George. Poor Benyon and Mr Fleetwood are 
dead. In the former I have had a great loss, which delays my 
leaving town till Monday morning when Cousin Chappie will 
come with me. We shall be with you on Tuesday night, and 
proceed to Dorset on Thursday morning. The Duke of Bolton 
will be at Winchester on Tuesday, and if you are there, you 
may meet us at Stockbridge. I do not answer your wife's letter 
as I am coming so soon. The children are well and will dine 
with me tomorrow." 

One of the objects of the Governor's visit to 
Stratford and Blandford at this crisis was to arrange 
for the formation of a regiment of Dorset men at his 
own cost to fight, if need be, for the King. The 
whole of the regular troops in the country at the 
disposal of the Government did not amount to 8000 
men ; and it had been discovered that local associa- 
tions had been formed in several districts for enlisting 
and arming the adherents of the Pretender. After 
making his arrangements for this purpose the Gover- 
nor returned to town. 

In the meanwhile on the 6th of October, the 
rebellion had broken out in Northumberland, headed 
by Mr Forster, one of the members for that county, 
and the Earl of Derwentwater, whose names had 
been included in the recent warrants for arrest but 
who had managed to escape from London by starting 
a few hours before the seizure of their friends. On 
getting back to town, Governor Pitt wrote to Robert 1 : 

"1715. October 25. Pall Mall. I dined at Mr GrevilTs and 
lay at Winchester on Friday. On Saturday night we got to Cousin 
Chappie's, and rested there till Monday, arriving here last night. 

1 Dropmore i. 53. 


By what I can hitherto observe, we are like to have great 
confusion, and with the end of it, bee not (far from) utter mine. 
The rebels in Northumberland are joyned those of Scotland, 
and are marched towards Glascow. It is rumoured that the 
D(uke) of Som(erse)t will bee out, and there is a report in towne 
that Sir E. Sey (mou)r and Colonel Horner (are under recognisances) 
the former 4000 the latter 3000. They had ingaged to assist 
the rebels, which I can hardly believe it, but as times goe, one 
can hardly find a friend to trust. It is said you will soon heare, 
if not already of the D(uke) of Or(mon)d's landing in the West or 
in Wales, for hee is gone from Paris. 

I hope you have met with the officers of my regiment. 
Let me know whether arms have come down for it, and what 
progress has been made towards the well-settling of the militia, 
in which I would have you act for me. Give my service to 
General Earle, Mr Trenchard and all our friends. There are 
various reports of Mr Harvey's recovery. 

I hope you have a good lock on the door. Here are great 
robbing and housebreaking, and I believe you will find it as 
bad in the country. I shall send back the master key which 
I brought away. You see what a call the Bank has made, in 
which I must pay 3000, and stocks fall prodigiously." 

Two days later he writes again : 

"1715. Oct. 27. Pall Mall. Here is afoot associations from 
severall countys. I wish you could bee at the head of procuring 
one to Dorsett and Wiltshire, about which consult Mr Earle. 
I here inclose the Dayly Corant, wherein is one from Nottingham. 
If it bee thought necessary I can send arms for one hundred 
foot and accoutrements for 20 horse ; and tell General Earle, 
if the gentlemen subscribe, lett him incert mee for what number 
of horse hee thinks fitt, and I will immediately appear with 
them. The D(uke) of Somersett is out." 

On the 2Qth of October he writes from Pall Mall : 

" There were letters this day from France, which mentions that 
the D(uke) of O(rmond) was sayled thence in a ship with 7000 
arms, officers and ammunition suitable thereto. I hope though 
you did not vote against him, you will fight against him, for there 
was never such a villanous scheme layd for the destruction of a 
government as to Church and State in this world. 

Deputy Lieutenants should contrive that where two or 
more persons contribute for a horse or foot soldier, they should 
be as near neighbours as possible. I wish my own Company 
of foot to be raised in and about Blandford, and in ten days 
can send arms to equip 100 foot completely." 


It would appear from the next letter that the 
Governor's suggestion for the formation of an associa- 
tion in Dorset and Wiltshire under the directions of 
General Earle had been adopted ; and that some 
information about it had been sent to London by 
Robert. For his father writes to him : 

"1715. November 8. Pall Mall. What the General has 
subscribed for me I will make good with all haste imagineable. 
I wonder hee should not desire more carbines for the horse, for 
suppose they should be oblidged in the inclosures to fight afoot ; 
besides they will look more formidable and be in the nature of 

The rebels joined with those of Northumberland, are 
marching for Lancashire : Carpenter being in their rear, and 
Wills with 10 regiments in their front, we hope for a good account 
of them in a few days. Your brother is with one of the 10 

The brother here referred to was Governor Pitt's 
second son Thomas, who was in command of a regi- 
ment of dragoons on this occasion, and took part in 
the coming defeat of the rebels at Preston of which 
the Governor writes to Robert thus : 

"1715. November 17. Pall Mall. I received intelligence 
yesterday morning, at 6 o'clock, from your brother of the sur- 
render of the rebels, numbering 4000 or 5000, at Preston. Lords 
Derwentwater and Widdrington and Macintosh's son being 
hostages. The news was confirmed at 10 o'clock by an express 
brought by Colonel Nassau to the King. The lords, gentlemen 
and clergy are to be brought up, of the last it is reported, there 
are seventeen of the church of England, and many more Popish 
priests. Sir R. B. is not among them. About 100 of our men 
have been killed or wounded ; as for the rebels, I never heard 
of such scoundrels. Your brother and all our friends are well." 

"1715. Nov 26. Pall Mall. That affaire in Scotland" 
(the battle of Sheriff muir) "was but little better than a drawne 
battle. The Dutch troops are all marching thither and some 
of our owne. It is believed the Pretender is there and that 
Ormond is somewhere lurking in England. The rebells att 
Preston are bringing up to towne. Your brother is well, whose 
regiment took their onely standard with the motto Amor regis 
et patrice tantum valet. The Jacobites and Papists hereabouts 
are as insolent as ever." 


From his next letter it would seem that the 
excitement he had lately gone through was beginning 
;o tell upon the old man. 

"Writing now," he says on the 28th of November, "is not so 
mch my talent as formerly. Desire of ease and retirement 
:>mes on with age, and it is as much as I can compass to write 
rtiat is necessary for me. 

This day William Windham and Cousin Chappie dined with 
ice, and told mee the Salisbury rebels or rioters were brought 
up on Saturday last ; there being but five appeared who were 
~ent over to the King's Bench till next terme, against when they 

all consider of further punishment The rascal I depended 

m has disappointed me of my saddles, but I shall have them in 
fortnight and the 100 arms of foot I expect this week." 

The rebellion in England was now over, and that 
Scotland was doomed. For 5000 Dutch troops had 
irrived and were marching northwards to join the 
"ing's forces there. In England the prompt seizure 
ind flight of the leading Jacobites, the blockade 
of the French ports in the Channel, which had pre- 
vented the importation of troops and arms from 
France, and the admirable military arrangements 
which had been made by Stanhope, had effectually 
defeated the projects of the Pretender, whose cause 
had received a further blow by the death in September 
of Louis the Fourteenth. The Government of France 
had now devolved on the Regent, who was by no 
means inclined to risk a fresh war with England, 
although, as will be seen, Governor Pitt entertained 
great doubts of his sincerity, which were confirmed 
by the Pretender's landing in Scotland towards the 
end of December. In the meanwhile Stanhope had 
not forgotten his promise to Robert, although its 
fulfilment had been postponed by the stirring events, 
that had been occurring. On the iyth of December, 
the Governor wrote to Robert from Pall Mall, "By 
what I hear, Mr Stanhope's promise to you will be 
performed before Parliament meets. Those rebels 
that have been brought up will not confess anything 


to the prejudice of their party ; from which I infer 
they are still carrying on their villany ; and the 
Regent on the other side has doubtless assisted them, 
and has put a project afoot of rayseing the Coyne, 
by which he will amass a vast sum of money. I wish 
it bee not made use of against us in favour of the 
Pretender. Not a little talk here of George Pitt, 
his son, and Cousin Ryves refusing to sign the Associa- 

On the 5th of January he writes again, this time 
from the Secret Committee, which was sitting at the 
House of Commons " I have but time to tell you the 
Pretender is in Scotland. I believe you'l heare of 
Ormond in few days in England or in Ireland 1 /' 

These anticipations were not realised. Before 
the end of the month the Pretender had left Scotland 
for France ; and the Scotch rebels had returned to 
their homes. Parliament met again on the gth of 
January, when the seven rebel peers being im- 
peached, six of them pleaded guilty, throwing them- 
selves on the King's mercy, and preparations were 
made for the trial of the seventh, Lord Wintoun. 
Stanhope now had time to complete his job for his 
brother-in-law. On the 2ist, the Governor wrote 
to Robert: 

"In mine last post I wrote you that Orlando Bridgman, 
Mr Evelin of Surrey, Colonel Selwin and yourself were of the 
Greene Cloth to the Prince. I undertooke to Mr Stanhope that you 
would accept it ; they others kissed the Prince's hand yesterday. 
I never asked what the salary was, but I heare 'tis 500 per 
annum, with those advantages I wrote you. This is a footeing 
for you, which I hope you'l soe improve as to lett the King and 
Prince see that you are capable to serve 'em in any imploy, and 
what I advise you to is to shun the company of your old comrades 
as you would the plague, for they are most of 'em in actuall 
rebellion, or abettors, or those of avow'd indifference. 

This day the King came to the House (speech not yett 
printed) purport was the Pretender was of a certainty in Scotland, 
and that hee was promised forreigne assistance, hinting France. 
1 Dropmore i. 51. 


The ministers told us of a ship gone from Callais with my Lord 
Melford's sone and 100 officers, and all those ports about full 
of Irish, Scotts and English, and that there's an armament 
making att Ryone. Some say Ormond is there. My opinion is 
that the French, as soone as they hear the Pretender is crowned, 
they'l receive an Embassador from him, which will oblidge ours 
to come away, and then nothing less than a war can ensue, and 
to support it a tax on land of four shillings in the pound will 
give such a handle to the Jacobites as that you'l find their rebel- 
lious risks and tumults insuperable. For my part I see nothing 
attending us but mine and confusion, and this is the consequence 
of the last cursed reigne, and what France is now doeing is the 
bargaine for which the fruits of our victory's were given up, 
that villanous cessation sett afoot, that cursed peace made, and 
our commerce sacrificed, 'tis shocking to the last degree to 
consider seriously to what condition wee are reduced. Wee 
have few Torys in the House that appeare, soe they traduce us 
by the name of a Rump Parliament, and we doe 'em by the 
names of Jacobites and Papists. I think of waiting tomorrow 
on the Prince to thank him for the honour he has done you." 

A week later, writing to Robert's wife, the Gover- 
nor expressed his disappointment that his son had 
not yet arrived in town to take up his appointment. 
"I did hope/' he says, "by this to have seene your 
husband in towne, and his not being soe, occasions 
various speculations." 

Robert's delay in coming up to town seems to 
have been caused partly by his reluctance to meet 
his sister who was coming to stay at his father's 
house. It would appear that he had written to 
the Governor, suggesting that her visit should be 
postponed for a while. His father wrote angrily in 
reply : 

" 1715. February 7th. Pall Mall. I receiv'd yours of the 5th 
to which I shall only answere that my house and all I have is at 
my owne disposall and shall be soe. I think you have allready put 
a more than ordinary slight on the Prince's favour, and those 
that obtained it for you. I do not doubt but you still adhere 
to the advice of your old Jacobite friends, who I hope to live to 
see confounded and all their adherents. You may stay in the 
country or come. It is all one to me." 

D. 3* 


When at last Robert came, his stay must have I 
been a short one, and he seems to have made himself 
as offensive as possible both to his father and sister, \ 
if we may judge from the following extract from 
a letter sent to him from his father-in-law General 
Stewart on the ist of March after his return to 

" I must here take occasion to acquainte you with a particular 
which I had in a visset from a reall friende and relation of yours, 
who told mee your father in discourse with him, in some passion, 
highley resented your behaviour when hee brought your sister's 
child in his arms into the company who all except yourself took 
notice of the child; nor that you would not have the complesance 
to go into the next room to see your sister who was that moment 
come to towne ; and ended his discourse by saying it should not ! 
be the better for you. When your friende told me this, he saide, 
as matters stand, hee thought what you then did was highley 
imprudent, for considering your father's passion and positive 
temper, and wholly in the power and influenced by those who 
are no friends of yours, ading that his fortune being all of his owne 
acquiring and at his owne disposal!, except the little hee had 
already settled on you, hee dreaded the consequence, and wished 
for your owne and your childrens sakes you would moderate your 
resentments, and take some proper method to ingratiate yourself 
with your father. This I thought highly for your service to 
know 1 ." 

At the instigation of his advisers, General Stewart 
and George Pitt of Strathfieldsay, Robert was induced 
to send his father some explanation of his extra- 
ordinary conduct on this occasion. But it seems to 
have been couched in terms that had the effect of 
increasing his father's irritation, if we may judge 
from the result as reported to Robert in a further 
letter from the General, who writes : 

" After receaving the coppy of your letter to your father, which 
I was strictly injoined not to sho to any but my wife, I sent twice 
to him that if at home, I would waite on him, but boath times 
without success. Hee at last made mee a visset and after siting 
a good while, without taking any notice or giving any opportunity 

1 Dropmore i. 56. 


of mentioning you, my wife came into the room, and sone after 
he fell into a violent passion, declaring his resentment upon a 
letter you writ to him ; to which wee both seemed to bee strangers 
and exprest concerne that you should do anything to give him 
so great disturbance. Hee then said hee would bring the letter 

to sho us, which hee has not yet don Two days ago the 

girles" (Robert's daughters) "being at my house, your father 
came to make them and us a vissett. My wife being in the rome, 
wee expected after the girles were gon out, hee would have shone 
us your letter but still he tooke no notice of any thing. At last 
my wife asked, if hee had writ to you or heard anything lately 
from you, to which he answered, in some passion, that .he had 
received a long letter from you which he threw by without reading, 
which gave us boath a good deale of concerne, and then wee 
offered to enter into some buisnesse upon that affaire, which he 
industriously waved and so tooke his leave. I must at the same 
time acquaint e you that hee is extremely kinde to your children, 
and is making the girles very fine, which Mrs Cholmondely with 
care and kindness manages for them." 

It would seem from a passage in this letter that 
Robert, notwithstanding his constant complaints 
of his straitened circumstances, had threatened to 
throw up his appointment in the household of the 
Prince of Wales, for the General says, "You seeme 
resolved to resigne your employment. Wee most 
earnestly desire you will not do anything in it till 
you come to towne, and without consulting George 
Pitt who is not onely a friende, but is honest and 
able to advise you for the best 1 /' 

The perverseness of Robert Pitt throughout the 
whole of this business is very characteristic. He 
seems to have displayed a malicious ingenuity in 
irritating his father in every possible way, con- 
temptuously disregarding his wishes and advice, 
and manifesting a determination to continue on bad 
terms with his sisters, notwithstanding the kindness 
of Mrs Cholmondeley to his daughters and the sub- 
stantial services which his brother-in-law Stanhope 

1 Dropmore i. 58. 

32 2 


had rendered him. It is clear from other letters 
from General Stewart that Stanhope was now helping 
him in other business matters, besides obtaining 
for him his long wished for sinecure, which he had 
accepted with so bad a grace, and had even threatened 
to throw up, a threat which it would seem he was 
only prevented from carrying out by the earnest 
representations of his wife's parents. His behaviour 
on this as on so many other occasions, might well 
have broken down the patience of a far more long- 
suffering parent than the Governor. 



AFTER the collapse of the rebellion, the next 
subject on which friction seems to have arisen between 
Robert Pitt and his father was the Septennial Bill, 
by which it was proposed to repeal the Triennial Act 
and to extend the life of Parliaments from three to 
seven years. On this purely political question it 
was natural that whilst the father was strongly in 
favour of the extension, which would keep the Whig 
party in for four years longer, the son should side 
with the Tories in opposing it. In doing so, he 
ignored the advice of his kinsman George Pitt, who, 
although he himself voted against the Bill, evidently 
thought that this was a point on which Robert might 
properly give way ; and accordingly wrote to him 
on the 12th of April: 

"I do not doubt you will avoid all occasions of giveing distast 
about the politicks : and will take measures about comeing to 
town accordingly. The Bill for suspending the Triennial Act 
is commenced in the House of Lords, and it is said, will pass by 
a majority of twenty at least. In our House there is no doubt 
at all of its success, so that some people now hold their noses 
very high ; some that they are senators for life, others that their 
places are as good as freeholds 1 ." 

Robert did not see fit to follow his cousin's advice 
on this occasion. His father displayed some irrita- 
tion at his conduct, as appears from a letter, which 

1 Dropmore i. 58. 


he wrote to his daughter-in-law, in which he says of 
her husband : 

"There are not a few speculations on his behaviour to the 
Prince, and the reason he forbears to come up at this time. The Bill 
will pass without him, maugre the opposition of the cursed caball, 
of which hee has all along made one, and has as much contributed 
to the ruine of this kingdom as any in it. I shall not admire, if 
the Pretender give him his quietus, as soone as he sees him. 
What interest could I expect to have, when I could not influence 
my son to come into measures to preserve, what he had not spent 
mee 1 ? " 

The Septennial Bill passed the Commons on the 
8th of June. That the Governor's interest with the 
Ministry had not been seriously impaired by his son's 
political inaction is clear from the following letter 
written to Robert by his father. 

" 1716. June 19. Pall Mall. I this day kissed hands of the 
King, the Prince and the Princess on being appointed Governor 
of Jamaica ; and shall embark for that island at the end of 
August. Lady Grandison has just been here to wish me joy of 
the honour the King has done me." 

Lady Grandison might well wish him joy. 
Nothing could have been more convenient for her 
and her husband, the General, than to get the old 
gentleman out of the country with as little delay as 
possible. The longer he stayed in England, the 
greater was the danger of the breach between him 
and Robert becoming irreparable. The sooner he 
was shipped off, the sooner would she and her husband 
be relieved of the intolerable burden of scheming to 
induce Robert to behave with common decency 
towards his father, and his father to overlook his 
son's manifold delinquencies. If the climate of the 
West Indies were to prove fatal to the tough old man, 
so much the sooner would their daughter and her 
children enter into their inheritance. The King's 
selection of the Governor to this post may well have 

1 Dropmore i. 59. 



been regarded by the old couple as a signal instance 
of the interposition of Providence on their behalf ; 
and it is clear, from some of their letters which have 
survived, that they spared no pains to improve the 

That the Governor himself should have been 
willing to accept the appointment is more surprising. 
He was now in the sixty-fourth year of his age. He 
had lived a laborious, exciting and exhausting life, 
nearly one half of it in an enervating and unhealthy 
climate. Only a few months before he had written 
to his son, " Desire of ease and retirement comes on 
with age, and it is as much as I can compass to write 
what is necessary for me/' He had attained an 
influential and honourable position in Parliament, 
the duties of which he seems to have taken much 
gratification in discharging. Nevertheless he appears 
to have been as ready to go out to Jamaica, as he 
had been to undertake the Governorship of Fort 
St George some nineteen years before. Amongst the 
reasons that led him to accept the appointment, we 
may not unreasonably suppose that one was his de- 
sire to repeat in the Western world the successes he 
had won in the East. Jamaica was as pre-eminently 
the headquarters of the English trade in the West 
Indies as Fort St George had been in India during 
his Presidency. He had seen Madras grow under 
his rule in strength and importance until it had 
become, to quote his own words, "the jewel of a 
colony " ; and he may have hoped to do as much for 
Jamaica. He had few family ties to keep him at 
this time in England. His daughters, his greatest 
care, had both been comfortably provided for. He 
must have been as anxious to get away from Robert, 
as Robert must have been to get rid of him. He 
had done his best by his other two sons. Thomas 
had lately distinguished himself at Preston in 


command of his regiment of dragoons. John had got 
his commission in the Guards. Both were now well 
started in life, with safe seats in Parliament, and 
likely to do as well for themselves in his absence as 
they would if he remained at home. 

He was therefore free to follow his own inclinations 
at this crisis ; and the prospect of starting a new life 
in the New World, unembarrassed by the perpetual 
quarrels of his children, had evidently attractions for 
him. He was, moreover, a thrifty man. The great 
diamond was still unsold. The Governorship of 
Jamaica would give him an opportunity of curtailing 
his own expenses, and adding to his fortune. He 
loved power, and like most masterful men had a high 
opinion of his own abilities. At Fort St George he 
had constantly been thwarted by his enemies on the 
Court of the East India Company ; compelled to 
keep as his second in command a man whom he 
loathed ; and subjected to unmerited censure for 
some of his best work. In Jamaica he may well have 
hoped to have a free hand and to rely with safety in 
any emergency on the hearty support of the Home 
Government, seeing that Stanhope his son-in-law was 
now Secretary of State, and on closer terms of inti- 
macy with the King than any other Minister. 

When he first accepted the appointment, he 
hoped, as we have seen, to be able to leave England 
by the end of August. But he soon found this 
impossible. On the 25th of that month he writes 
to his son Robert from Pall Mall, "I shall hardly go 
so soon as I intended, and shall take shipping from 
Portsmouth 1 /' A few days later, writing to his 
daughter-in-law, he says, "I am busy night and day 
to prepare for my departure, being what I most long 
to see." 

On accepting the Governorship of Jamaica, he 

1 Dropmore i. 59. 



had vacated his seat in the House of Commons, and 
had made arrangements for the election of his succes- 
sor. He had a great deal of business to get through 
in connexion with his own private affairs before he 
could leave England ; to make up his accounts ; to 
settle the disposition of his property ; and arrange 
for the conduct of his financial affairs during his 
absence. In some of these matters he availed himself 
of the services of his cousin Mr William Chappie of 
the Middle Temple, whom he subsequently made one 
of the executors of his will. Writing to Robert, he 

"1716. September 4. Pall Mall. Cousin Chappie says you 
have the writings as to the farm and parsonage. I would have 
all by mee to make my settlements effectual. I hope Mr Jolly 
will send all up, and to save postage, under the cover of the 
Colonel. My house is full" (of visitors) "and I rarely see any of 
them but at dinner : nor have the least time to spend with 
visitors, being anxious to settle matters as they ought to be, 
before I go. I return Grist's paper, of which I can form no 
judgment, but desire that all may be done with good husbandry 
and no more of the usual profuseness and carelessness. Grist 
must be well looked after. You must draw off a hogshead of 
new claret, for mine is packed up ; we must think of some way 
to send the beer to Portsmouth 1 ." 

On receiving Robert's reply, he writes: 

"1716. September 8. Pall Mall. I received the writeings 
and sent them to Cosin Chappie. Your accounts which are for 
great sums, being without any one date, gives mee great trouble in 
settling my affaires ; therefore pray bring up all letters received 
and every scrip of paper that can give me any insight into any 
one account. I find by my invoyces and letters, I consigned 
you a bulse of diamonds on the Heme, Captain Lane, and another 
on the Strutham, Captain Gough, both of which arrived in July 
before me, and find nothing of either of them in your accounts. 
There is one that belonged to my Lord Shaftsbury wrote me a 
very impertinent letter about money hee says hee spent when I 
stood Knight of the Shire ; his name is Parry. I am sure I 
never ordered him to spend a penny, nor promised ever to give 
him any, nor will I." 

1 Dropmore i. 59, 60. 


Judging from the following letter to Robert from 
General Stewart, his father was at this time more 
kindly disposed towards his son than usual ; for the 
General writes : 

"1716. September 7. Bath. The account your letter gives 
of matters is very pleasing to all this family. There seems an 
appearance of all things going well, and your going to London 
with Mrs Pitt and the children, will, I believe, improve the good 
intentions your father may have ; especially at this time when, 
I judge, his final settlements are to bee made. If you do not 
finde Tom at London, I hope hee will bee sent for to take his leave 
of his grandfather, soe that hee may see all the infantry together, 
which I thinke should please him very much." 

The infantry must have been an exceptionally 
interesting group of children. Harriet, the eldest, 
who was now twelve years old, became according to 
Lord Camelford "one of the most beautiful women 
of her time/' Thomas, the heir, was eleven. As a 
young man, his figure is said to have been " one of the 
most imposing ever seen/' and he is said to have been 
"strong and graceful, addicted to hunting and manly 
sports/' William, the future Earl of Chatham, of 
whom his grandfather in his correspondence never 
speaks but in terms of warm affection and apprecia- 
tion, was now eight years old. The ages of the three 
youngest girls ranged from ten to two. Catherine, 
the eldest of the three, is said to "have had much 
goodness, but neither wit nor beauty/' Betty, the 
youngest, when grown up is reported to have had 
"the face of an angel and the heart of all the furies 1 ." 
Ann, William's favourite sister, and the nearest in 
age to him, was in her way almost as notable as he. 
They were all great favourites with their grandfather. 
No resentments he may have cherished against their 
father ever extended to them. It was certainly 
sound advice which the General gave his son-in-law 
to bring them all up to London at this juncture that 

1 Rosebery 16, 48, 49, 53. 


;heir grandfather might see as much of them as 
possible. No less judicious was his conduct in pressing 
on Robert the desirability of coming up himself to 
town, and attending to his duties in the household of 
the Prince of Wales. "I" am clearly of opinion/' 
he writes, "that your waiting on the Prince at this 
time, as much and as often as attendance on your 
father will permit, is absolutely necessary ; which 
will let him see that you intend constantly to do 
your duty in your turn, which may be a reasonable 
inducement to him to think of making that atten- 
dance easie to you, since he cannot but know it will 
create an expense which without his assistance you 
cannot well afford. I am very glad my house happens 
to bee empty at this time, that he may see, whenever 
it is, you shall not bee put to the expence of a lodging/' 
Meanwhile Robert's lack of business capacity 
was as usual worrying his father, who on the 2Qth of 
September writes : 

" I meete with great trouble in settling Sir Stephen Evance's 
accounts, occasioned by your neglect and ill management, and 
want the copy of George Pitt's and your receipt which you gave 
him when you took the diamond out of his hands. I am over- 
whelmed with trouble, care, and confusion ; and wish I was 
gone, hopeing then to have a little requiem, for here I cannot 1 ." 

A month passed, and neither Robert nor the 
children had come up to town. On the 7th of 
September General Stewart had written to his son- 
in-law from Bath : 

"I did fix leaving this the 27th of this month, but since it is 
absolutely necessary that you should not leave London till your 
father goes, and that you may have the more time of being at 
my house, I propose staying here a week longer than I intended." 

On the 29th of October he writes from London : 

"The Court comes to town this night. I hear the Prince 
dynes in the Citty next Monday, and that a great many are 

1 Dropmore i. 61. 


preparing to make their appearance next Tuesday/' (at the 
birthday levee) "and am told that your velvitt imbrodery will 
bee ready against that date, but do not hear of any lodgings 
secured for you to put them on in. The smallpox was never 
knowne to bee so much in towne as now, therefore ... I do not 
thinke it adviseable to bring the children with you." 

Whether Robert came up to town at all at this 
time seems doubtful. If he did, his stay there cannot* 
have been a long one. For the letter from his father 
from which the following is an extract is addressed 
to him at Stratford on the 4th of December. 

"From the time I came into England I have bin bewildered 
in my thoughts about the confusion that was in my family 
whilst abroad, and whensoe ever I sett about my accounts, it 
renewed my concerne to that deegree in my closett, and putt 
mee into such confusion, as made mee desist, whereby my accounts 
run behindhand : but now I have gott pretty well through them. 
Yet when I receive any letters from you, write you or thinke of 

you, it is renovare dolor em I have been at great expences at 

home, the great diamond unsold, soe in my 64th year of my age, 
I am travelling to retrieve this, and seeke my quiett, and endeav- 
oure to forgett it, if I can. God's will bee done. I hope to pass 
the remainder of my life with more comfort than I have since I 
came to England 1 ." 

It is clear that when he wrote this letter the 
Governor hoped to be able to leave England for 
Jamaica very shortly, and that he had practically 
settled up his private affairs. But he was still 
detained by difficulties which had arisen in denning 
his powers as Governor and those of his Council and 
the legislative Assembly of the island 2 . For years 
past under a succession of Governors, there had been 
frequent collisions between the Governor and his 
Council on the one side and the Assembly on the 
other in relation amongst other matters to the settle- 
ment and raising of the Government revenues, the 
maintenance of the garrison of the island, and the 
rights of the Assembly to adjourn. His predecessor 

1 Dropmoie i. 61. 2 Hedges 3. 150. 



Lord Archibald Hamilton during the whole of his 
term of office had been in constant strife with the 
Assembly and at last had refused to hold any further 
communication with them, the result of which had 
been that he had been removed from office and sent 
home under arrest as a state prisoner. In these 
circumstances it is not surprising that his successor 
should have asked for definite instructions from the 
Ministry as to the policy which it was desired that 
he should pursue ; and a clear definition of his powers 
and those of the Council and the Assembly. It was 
unfortunate that at this juncture the King and 
Stanhope should have been absent from England in 
Hanover. They had started from London on the 
gth of July, some three weeks after the Governor 
had kissed hands on his appointment. The Prince 
of Wales had been left Guardian of the Realm with 
very limited constitutional powers ; and the King 
did not return until near the end of the following 
January. In the meanwhile misunderstandings if 
not intrigues were beginning between Stanhope and 
Sunderland, who were with the King in Hanover, 
and Townshend and Walpole, who had remained in 
London with the Prince, who was himself deeply 
offended at the King's refusal to appoint him as 
Regent during his absence. These political troubles 
and jealousies were already in course of development 
when Pitt sent in the following petition to the Prince 
and his ministers 1 : 

"To His Royal Highness George, Prince of Wales, The humble 
Memorial of Thomas Pitt Esqr. 

That his Majesty having been Graciously pleas'd to Appoint 
the said Thomas Pitt Governour of the Island of Jamaica in 
America, he has endeavour'd to gain the best account he is able 
of the present State and Condition of that Island. 

1 Hedges 3. 151. 


And the Right Honble, the Lords Commissioners for Trade 
and Plantations having favour'd him with the perusal of the 
several papers transmitted for some time past from thence, by 
reading the same and also from the information of persons 
interested in and well acquainted with that Island, the said 
Governour is inclin'd to believe that the affairs of that Country 
are in great disorder and confusion. 

That the Island is also in a most dangerous State and almost 
defenceless, as well from the want of a greater number of white 
people to prevent any Insurrection of the Negroes, as (of) Ships 
of war to secure the Coasts, Trade and Navigation, and to put 
an end to the Robberyes and disorder in those parts. 

That as the said Governour of Jamaica is preparing to go 
and take upon him the Government of the said island, he is 
desireous to discharge his duty in his Post, for His Majesty's 
Service and the good of the Country, which he shall not be able 
to doe without Such Instructions and powers as may be thought 
necessary in the present circumstances of the said Island. On 
consideration thereof 

It is humbly pray'd that before the departure of the said 
Governour, the present State and Condition of Jamaica may be 
taken into Consideration, whereby such Dispositions may be 
made, as on Report thereof may be found most safe and bene- 
ficial for the Island and His Majesty's service." 

In due course Methuen, who was acting as Secre- 
tary of State in Stanhope's absence, referred this 
petition to the Council of Trade with the following 
covering letter : 

"From the Secretary of State to the Council of Trade. 
My Lords and Gentlemen, 

The inclosed Memorial from Mr Pitt having been laid 
before His Royal Highness I am commanded to transmit the 
same to you, and to signify to you His Royal Highnesses Pleasure 
that you consider what is represented in it, in relation to the 
present State and Condition of Jamaica, and report your Opinion 
of what you shall judge may be most effectual for retrieving the bad 
condition of that Island. And as this is a service of Importance 
I shall be ready to concur with you in your Deliberations on this 
Head, and to meet you when you shall let me know that it is 
convenient to you. 

I am, my Lords and Gentlemen, 

Your most humble and obedient servant, 


When sending in his memorial the Governor 
seems to have not unnaturally assumed that the 
Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, being 
the Government Department responsible for the 
idministration of the Colonies, would themselves 

ive been aware of the notorious condition of affairs 
Jamaica ; and that as the result of their accumu- 

tted knowledge and experience they had not only 
Formed some definite and pronounced opinions of the 
reforms that were required ; but would also be glad 
to give him the benefit of their advice, as to the 

>licy which it was desirable that he should adopt. 
Secretary of State seems also from his letter to 
the Council of Trade to have laboured under the same 
delusion ; for he requests them to report their opinion 
of what they should judge might be most effectual 
for retrieving the bad conditions of the island. Both 
he and Pitt had yet apparently to learn the methods 
of the Government officials of those days, who dealt 
at home with colonial matters. The main objects 
of these gentlemen seem to have been to disguise 
their own incapacity by an affectation of superior 
wisdom, and whilst securing for themselves a claim 
to share in the credit of any successes that might be 
obtained by a competent Colonial Governor, to protect 
themselves effectually against any discredit that 
might otherwise attach to them by the failure of an 
unsuccessful one. In these circumstances it was a 
matter of great difficulty to obtain any assistance at 
all from them. In the present case they seem to have 
had recourse in the first instance to the time honoured 
expedient of replying to the questions addressed to 
them by the Governor and Methuen by pro- 
pounding to Pitt some conundrums of their own ; 
and to have requested him to furnish them with a 
memorandum, informing them explicitly in what 
points he desired instructions, and what proposals 


he had himself to put forward with respect to each 
of them. 

He lost no time in doing this, and sent in his 
memorandum on the i6th of October to Methuen, 
who referred it at once to the Lords Commissioners. 
The points on which he asked for instructions in it 
were whether the Assemblies were right in assuming 
that they had power to adjourn their proceedings 
whenever they saw fit to do so, and in declaring that 
the Governor and his Council had no authority to 
amend Money Bills ; whether they were entitled to 
appoint other persons than the Receiver-General to 
collect public moneys ; what steps the Governor had 
power to take when the Assembly failed to provide 
moneys for the subsistence of the garrison, or the 
payment of other debts of the Government ; what 
encouragement could be given to white people to go 
and settle in the island ; and in what way subscrip- 
tions ought to be raised in the island to ma